President Speaks: Boosting social mobility requires supporting students 'on all sides'

By Dorothy Leland, University of California Merced

When the University of California, Merced, opened its doors in 2005, it created new opportunities for thousands of students in the state's Central Valley and beyond.


As the first new UC campus to open since 1965 and the first research university to be built in the historically underserved San Joaquin Valley, the pressure was on for UC Merced to make an impact. Just 14 years in, that impact is being felt in our city, in our region, and most importantly, in the lives of our students and their families.

Our student population is remarkable. More than 73% are first generation — doublethe national averageand by far the highest rate in the UC system. Nearly 600 of our students are undocumented, which is the highest by percentage in the UC system. More than 60% are low-income, and that number is closer to 70% if you include undocumented students, who are not eligible for Pell grants.


UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland grows her young campus

By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland presides over the University of California's newest, smallest and most diverse campus. More than half of her 8,000 students are low-income and underrepresented minorities; nearly three-fourths are the first in their families to attend college. This year, in U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of public universities, those students helped the campus climb 18 spots, to No. 2, for surpassing expected graduation rates.


Former Council Chair Mendonca Named Chief Economic, Business Advisor To Gov.-Elect Newsom

The Bay Area Council today (Jan. 5) heartily applauded the appointment of its former chair, Lenny Mendonca, to serve as Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s chief economic and business advisor. Mendonca also served as chair of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, the Council’s think tank.

“Gov.-elect Newsom has chosen wisely,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Lenny’s depth and breadth of understanding and knowledge about California’s economy is unparalleled. On housing, early education, higher education and so many other issues, Lenny knows what makes the state’s innovation economy tick. He is thoughtful, strategic and decisive, and he is widely respected by business leaders across California. Lenny also brings incredible international experience and knowledge that will be important in helping California compete globally. His steady hand will be invaluable for Gov.-elect Newsom as he confronts growing pressures and stresses on California’s economy.”


DACA still stands, but Congress must act

By Dorothy Leland, University of California Merced

As a nation, we are at a pivotal crossroads for immigration policy. And as chancellor at the University of California, Merced, I am acutely aware of the impact that federal immigration policy has on the nearly 600 undocumented students on our campus — the highest percentage of enrollment at any UC campus.

I urge Congress to take this opportunity to resolve the urgent matter of protecting our numerous DACA students, who were brought to this country as children and view America as the only home they have ever known. A compromise that combines permanent protections without harsh restrictions and reasonable border security measures would create a foundation for future immigration reform discussions. The time to do what most Americans agree on is now.


Why We Can't Stop Talking About California’s Sierra Snowpack

By Peter Arcuni, KQED Science

It's not just skiers who have been whipsawed this season between fear of another dry winter and delight over the epic January snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.

Also paying close attention: water wonks.

Why? Because melting Sierra snow provides somewhere between one-third and one-half of California's water supply. What determines just how much water is derived from that snow is called the "snowpack."

As of this week, water stored in accumulated Sierra snows was running just about average for late January, and amounted to about 60 percent of the average on April 1, when the snowpack is typically at its peak for the year. "Average" is good news compared to where things stood less than a month ago, when the snowpack was only about two-thirds of the early-January average.

Merced Native and Ph.D. Grad Lands Faculty Position at Pitt

By Annie Hunt, University of California Merced

For Merced native Tessa Provins, the opportunity to attend UC Merced for her graduate education was a chance to come home again — but it wasn’t simply the familiar location that drew her to the campus.

Provins earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 2013 before pursuing her graduate education at UC Merced. She completed a master’s degree in 2016 and a Ph.D. in political science in 2018.

She found the UC Merced political science faculty completely supportive of helping her reach her goal — to become a faculty member at a research institution. Professor Nathan Monroe, the Tony Coelho Chair in Public Policy, mentored Provins and played a key role in her decision to attend UC Merced and her success once she arrived.

Students Celebrated for ‘Rising Above’ at UC Merced

By Kenneth Mashinchi, University of California Merced

UC Merced has a track record of helping first-generation and underrepresented students succeed in college, earning high rankings nationally for social mobility and outperforming expected graduation rates.

As UC Merced students continue to rise above their circumstances, a Bay Area organization is producing a pipeline that helps these students begin the road to success before they set foot on the campus.

Students Rising Above (SRA) serves students from nine counties that make up the San Francisco Bay Area. The founding initiative, Rising Stars, provides services to first-generation students from low-income communities who exhibit a commitment to education and the character to overcome difficult circumstances.


Imagine a biodegradable cellphone

By Lorena Anderson, University of California Merced

Imagine a cell phone you can fold up and carry in your wallet. When you drop it, nothing cracks or breaks, or if it does, it repairs itself. And when it’s time for an upgrade, the old phone will biodegrade instead of taking up space in a landfill.

Maybe you’d rather wear your laptop or tablet in the fibers of your clothes, or wear a monitor that provides constant data about your health but feels no different than your own skin.

This is the future of electronics, and it’s happening in UC Merced professor Yue ‘Jessica’ Wang’slab.