As someone who has overcome many obstacles to get where he is now, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Safety and Chief of Police Chou Her understands the importance of uplifting his community.
Her's efforts to build a strong bond with the campus community and surrounding areas have not gone unnoticed as he has been awarded the prestigious Kevin McCauley Memorial Outstanding Staff Award.
The award recognizes staff members within the UC system who are supportive and inclusive of staff, encourage equity, diversity and inclusion, are forward-thinking, and do not compromise quality for fellow staff, students or faculty.
"I am thrilled and can't begin to find the words to express my gratitude for this recognition," Her said. "Being surrounded by people who love and support this campus and all the people who call it their campus, too, makes giving to our campus and its staff a great experience. I am humbly grateful that our campus Staff Assembly (SA) Board and Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) would recognize me with this honor."
"Chief Her’s nomination was strongly supported by the UC Merced SA Board and his selection by the CUCSA helped to validate and celebrate the immense work he does every day to support and ensure the safety of staff, students, and faculty," President of SA Alvin Cha said. "We heard from staff during meetings who shared all the work and support he provided staff within the Police Department, Emergency Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Fire Marshal and the Campus Building Official as the pandemic started and continued over the past two years with one staff member saying and several agreeing to how they wish they could clone Chief Her so that UC Merced could have more individuals like him supporting the campus."
As one of the founding police officers of UC Merced, Her joined the Bobcat community in 2005 and became the first person of Hmong descent to lead a UC public safety agency in 2017.
"It has been and continues to be an honor to serve our campus community. Seeing the campus grow with the Merced 2020 Project and seeing our community benefit from it has been exciting. I can't say that there haven't been challenges, but overall UC Merced is great place to be. I enjoy being here and also sharing the campus with my family and community," Her said.
Her, who moved to the United States from Laos as a refugee at an early age, said he understands the importance of inclusion and diversity.
"I believe that equity, diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of an effective organization," he said. "We serve our entire community and so having a team that reflects this culture of valuing people and valuing diversity makes us a more effective organization."
Her's extensive police and emergency management certification has enhanced his status as a role model to students looking to get into law enforcement, especially as he helped develop the university's student Community Service Officer program. In the program, students conduct patrol checks of the campus, provide safety escorts, pick up lost and found items, live scan applicants for employment and assist the police department with administrative tasks.
"One best thing about being the chief of a university police department is the fact that we do have student employees. I am extremely proud of our CSO Program. It allows this department to connect with our community at a student peer-to-peer level that most municipal agencies can only hope for," Her said.
Another way Her has helped built a bond with the community is by taking part in fun videos such as the UC Merced Police Department Lip Sync Challenge. The video showcases Her and some of the officers that work in the community.
The Kevin McCauley Memorial Outstanding Staff Award was created in 2015 as a memorial to Kevin McCauley, a long-time UC staff member who passed away in January of that year.
"I truly believe that our people make the campus what it is. I am just honored to be part of the team," Her said. "Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's a strong reminder to me that the work I do each day and how I do it, does matter."