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Staff, Faculty Convocations Celebrate Successes, Highlight New Priorities

August 24, 2017
Several hundred staff members are seated in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium listening to a speaker on stage.
UC Merced launched the new academic year by hosting convocation events for faculty and staff members.

Chancellor Dorothy Leland, members of her executive team and other campus leaders kicked off UC Merced’s 2017-18 academic year by lauding faculty and staff members, recapping successes of the past year and looking ahead to the coming year.

Leland, along with Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson, addressed both the Staff Convocation on Aug. 18 and Faculty Convocation on Aug. 22.

During both events, Leland referenced progress made on several campus initiatives, including the Merced 2020 Project, the Downtown Campus Center, the upcoming launch of UCPath and implementation of the Staff Hiring Plan.

“I hope that each of us can recognize what a special time this is,” Leland said. “There is a great responsibility on us, right now, to ensure that UC Merced grows in the right way.”

During the first few months of the fall semester, Leland plans to visit divisions to discuss recommendations of the Staff Hiring Plan, which will add up to 44 new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions within 10 areas over the next two years.

In addition to workforce planning, ongoing campus construction and broader University of California initiatives such as UCPath — which will replace the UC’s 35-year-old payroll and personnel systems — UC Merced will also focus on programming related to the First Amendment, academic freedom, hate speech, and the campus’s own Principles of Community .

“We live in troubling times, within an increasingly polarized national environment that impacts our campus community,” Leland said. “As a campus community and as individuals, we need to examine the principles of diversity and inclusion that we espouse and ask ourselves what more we can do to create the safe and welcoming environment in which the intellectual and individual growth of our students from diverse backgrounds can flourish.”

Convocation provided opportunities for other campus leaders to share updates in their areas. In his remarks to faculty, Peterson noted the $25 million received for research grants and contracts.

At the Staff Convocation, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies shared details about the incoming class of students. Although official numbers will not be available until after the campus conducts its annual census in September, Nies said UC Merced welcomed its largest entering class with more than 2,300 first-year and 160 graduate students.

Both convocations included segments that welcomed newcomers to UC Merced and honored various award recipients. Faculty Convocation recognized recipients of the 2016-17 Senate Awards, continuing lecturer awards and faculty who earned advancement, promotion or tenure. Staff members learned of the winners of the 2017 Staff Excellence Awards and Chancellor’s Innovation Awards.

“We serve remarkable students and support groundbreaking research,” Leland said. “The work that we do matters, and it will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our students and in our community.”

We serve remarkable students and support groundbreaking research. The work that we do matters, and it will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our students and in our community.

Chancellor Dorothy Leland