With a proven record of building universities, UC Merced Chancellor-Designate Dorothy Leland is prepared to lead the campus through its next phase of development by growing its academic and research profile.
"In some ways, I feel I've been preparing for this experience throughout my entire career," Leland said. "This is truly a dream come true, and I couldn't be more excited about it."
The UC Board of Regents today approved Leland's appointment to serve as the third chancellor of UC Merced. She begins July 1. Leland, who holds a doctoral degree in philosophy from Purdue University, currently serves as president of Georgia College & State University.
Leland will lead UC Merced during a time of unprecedented budget challenges for California, though she said the campus' size allows it to be nimble and adjust to changes more easily than other institutions. She has worked through similar problems during her time leading Georgia College.
"A campus sustained by a spirit of innovation has the flexibility to approach issues with greater dexterity and speed without the burden of legacy traditions and programs," she said.
Leland, a California native, said she looks forward to returning to her home state to lead its newest research university. Rather than coming in with a preconceived notion about its priorities, her plan is to meet first with major stakeholders to learn from them and to understand the challenges they face in reaching their goals.
She said she sees current and potential partners, such as other educational institutions, businesses and the campus supporters, as being important for the campus' future.
"To reach our long-term goals as an institution, we must be very creative and resourceful in our efforts to partner with those who share our vision and, through their generosity or mutual interests, can help us build the foundation for a world-class institution," she said.
UC Merced, as the world's first research university of the 21st century, should foster a culture of strategic risk-taking and entrepreneurialism, she said.
"This campus can become a leader in adopting or creating new technologies, new systems, new ideas and new methodologies that could ultimately benefit the entire UC system," Leland said.
UC Merced's commitment to sustainability, through its design and its research, is an area that distinguishes it from other universities, Leland said.
"I would like to explore ways in which UC Merced might leverage and grow its sustainability emphases and gain broader national recognition and funding support as a leader in this field," she said.
Furthering the town-gown relationship is also important to Leland, who said public universities have special responsibilities for working in partnership with others for the economic, cultural and educational benefit of their regions.
"I intend to put that belief into practice in Merced and the San Joaquin Valley," she said.