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UC Merced Recruits Additional Founding Faculty

September 9, 2003

UC Merced, the 10th and newest campus of the University of California system, is moving forward its mission to provide academic excellence and opportunity with the appointment of five educators as founding faculty. These new faculty join eight academics previously announced, for a current total of 13 leading scholars at the first major research university to be built in the 21st century.

“The scholarly accomplishments and commitment to teaching which these faculty members bring to UC Merced are exceptional,” said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “Faculty of this caliber guarantee that the university will develop a foundation for scholarship of the highest quality.”

In alphabetical order, UC Merced’s subsequent new founding faculty are:

  • Michael Colvin, Ph.D., leader of the Computational Biology Group in the Biology and Biotechnology Research Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been appointed as professor in the Schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering. He received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and a S.B. degree in chemistry and humanities from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Henry Forman, Ph.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Co-Director of the Center for Free Radical Biology, has been appointed as professor in the School of Natural Sciences. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Columbia University and a B.A. in chemistry from Queens College of the City University, New York.
  • Gregg Herken, Ph.D., Senior Historian and Curator at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum, has been appointed as professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. He received a Ph.D. in modern American diplomatic history from Princeton University.
  • Valerie Leppert, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of California, Davis, has been appointed as assistant professor in the School of Engineering. She received a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University, a B.A. in physics and chemistry and a B.A. in biology, both from Sonoma State University.
  • William Shadish, Ph.D., Dunavant University Professor of Psychology at the University of Memphis, has been appointed as professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. He received a Ph.D. and an M.S. in clinical psychology from Purdue University and a B.A. in sociology from Santa Clara University.

These appointments represent the initial round of 60 faculty to be named prior to the opening of the campus in the fall semester of 2005.

With responsibilities that extend beyond teaching and research, the founding faculty members also are charged with helping the university’s deans recruit the initial complement of faculty and create interdisciplinary research teams, academic programs and curricula. 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.

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts is headed by Dean Kenji Hakuta, who was previously the Vida Jacks Professor of Education at Stanford University.

Dean Jeff Wright, who heads the School of Engineering, came to UC Merced from Purdue University where he served as Associate Dean of Engineering.

Dean of Natural Sciences Maria Pallavicini was previously a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.