UC Merced Appoints First Founding Faculty

MERCED, CA — The University of California, Merced is opening a new chapter in the University of California's book of academic excellence with the appointment of eight leading scholars as its first founding faculty.

"We are drawing the best people from some of the best universities in this country and around the world," said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey in making today's announcement. "For our campus to welcome scholars with a wealth of experience in both teaching and research is an absolute thrill. Faculty of this caliber guarantee that UC Merced will develop a foundation for scholarship of the highest quality."

In alphabetical order, UC Merced's first eight founding faculty are:

  • Roger C. Bales, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona, has been appointed as a professor in the Engineering Division. He received a Ph.D. in environmental engineering science and an M.S. in social science from the California Institute of Technology, an M.S. in civil engineering from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in civil engineering from Purdue University.
  • Martha C. Conklin, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona, has been named a professor in the Engineering Division. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in environmental engineering science from the California Institute of Technology and a B.A. in physics from Mount Holyoke College.
  • Thomas C. Harmon, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA, has been appointed as an associate professor in the Engineering Division. He earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in civil engineering with an environmental engineering emphasis from Stanford University and his B.S. in civil engineering from The Johns Hopkins University.
  • Anne Myers Kelley, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Kansas State University, has been named a professor in the Natural Sciences Division. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in chemistry from UC Riverside.
  • David F. Kelley, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Kansas State University, has been appointed a professor in the Natural Sciences Division. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle, and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in physics and chemistry from Whitworth College.
  • Peggy A. O'Day, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Departments of Geological Sciences and Chemistry & Biochemistry at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ., has been named an associate professor in the Natural Sciences Division. She earned a Ph.D. in applied earth sciences from Stanford University, an M.S. in geological sciences from Cornell University and a B.S. with honors in geology from UC Davis.
  • Christopher Viney, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Chemistry, Head of Section for the Chemistry of Materials, and Head of Chemistry in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, has been appointed as a professor in the Engineering Division. He received his Ph.D. and earned a B.A. with first class honors from Trinity College and the Department of Metallurgy & Materials Science at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
  • Roland Winston, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Physics, The Enrico Fermi Institute and The College at the University of Chicago, has been named a professor in the Natural Sciences Division. He received a B.A. from Shimer College and a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

"Hiring accomplished educators and first-rate researchers is essential for us to develop a campus of UC quality - one that is an equal to its sister campuses in the UC system," said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost David Ashley. "We are building the first major research university of the 21st century and these world-class scholars will attract the next waves of faculty and the first students to UC Merced, and begin to shape the research programs that will define our campus."

Effective this summer, these appointments include several senior-level professors and represent the initial round of 75 faculty and lecturers to be named prior to the opening of the campus in the fall semester of 2004.

With responsibilities that extend beyond teaching and research, the founding faculty also are charged with helping the Divisional Deans recruit the initial complement of faculty, emphasizing the creation of interdisciplinary research teams, and plan the academic programs. Undergraduate degree programs to be available at the outset include computer science and engineering, environmental engineering, biological sciences, earth systems sciences, world cultures and history, and social and behavioral sciences. Masters and doctoral degrees will be offered in computer and information systems, environmental systems, systems biology, world cultures, and social and behavioral sciences.

In recruiting professors, Natural Sciences Dean Maria Pallavicini and Engineering Dean Jeff Wright are seeking scholars of distinction who will contribute to the unique culture, collaborations and opportunities at UC Merced. A dedication to diversity and full inclusiveness among faculty and students and a pioneering spirit are requirements as well.

"The faculty must share our campus-wide commitment to minimize barriers between academic areas and link the disciplines through creative interaction," Pallavicini said. "One of our missions is to encourage interdisciplinary research, including research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students, based on strong, innovative academic programs. To that extent, we are designing a common, freshman-year curriculum for students in the natural sciences and engineering and each faculty member will contribute to the development and teaching of those courses."

The first eight appointments also reflect the Deans' thrust to bring outstanding scholars and gifted, award-winning teachers on board, with an initial emphasis on environmental scientists and engineers. Academic programs available when the campus opens will represent all the basic disciplines and will expand to a breadth commensurate with the other UC campuses.

"Our first goal was to have a group of faculty who could help establish a strong research foundation for our first signature research institute, the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, which will involve the collaboration of scientists and engineers. All of the faculty have stellar research programs and will be able to support our research partnerships with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the National Parks, and open new opportunities for partnerships," Wright said. "Our next recruitment efforts will focus on the biological sciences, math, and computer science and engineering."

Divisional Deans make the faculty appointments with authorization from the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost following a thorough and extensive review process. The UC Merced Academic Senate Task Force and the UC Merced Committee on Academic Personnel, each comprised of faculty from the other nine UC campuses, have advised the Chancellor on these initial appointments and have been critical to the recruitment process.

In addition to seeking 20 faculty members each for the Engineering; Natural Sciences; and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) Division, UC Merced is recruiting top scholars to serve as the founding Dean for the SSHA Division and the Director of the World Cultures Institute. More information on these founding faculty, as well as information concerning academic planning and faculty positions, is available at www.ucmerced.edu.

Currently employing more than 120 educators and professionals, UC Merced will welcome 1,000 students upon opening in August of 2004 and will grow to serve 25,000 students through: 1) a residential campus ultimately serving 25,000 students; 2) educational centers throughout the San Joaquin Valley; and 3) cooperative agreements with the California Community College system.

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