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Advisory committee named for UC Merced chancellor search

President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, speaks with media before a Health Care Access Summit hosted by Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, on the University of California, Merced campus in Merced, Calif., on Friday, June 22, 2018. The event was held to discuss how health care access can be improved in the San Joaquin Valley. “The ratio of health care providers to patients in the valley is among the lowest in California, so we know the need is here,” said Napolitano. “As the leading public research university in the county, part of our challenge and mission is public service and health care delivery is right in our wheelhouse.”
President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, speaks with media before a Health Care Access Summit hosted by Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, on the University of California, Merced campus in Merced, Calif., on Friday, June 22, 2018. The event was held to discuss how health care access can be improved in the San Joaquin Valley. “The ratio of health care providers to patients in the valley is among the lowest in California, so we know the need is here,” said Napolitano. “As the leading public research university in the county, part of our challenge and mission is public service and health care delivery is right in our wheelhouse.” akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

University of California President Janet Napolitano on July 29 announced the formation of an advisory committee of university faculty, staff, students, alumni and foundation representatives to help in the international search for a new chancellor to lead the Merced campus.

Regent George Kieffer, the Board of Regents chair for 2017-19, appointed five regents to serve on the committee

UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland announced in May that she planned to retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year. Nathan Brostrom, systemwide executive vice president and chief financial officer, will serve as the interim chancellor until a new chancellor is appointed.

The search advisory committee includes: UC President Janet Napolitano, Kieffer, UC Board of Regents Vice Chair Cecilia Estolano, UC Regent Michael Cohen, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, UC Regent Richard Leib, UC Student Regent Hayley Weddle, Academic Senate Incoming Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani, Professor Jennifer Manilay, Professor Thomas Hansford, Professor Valerie Leppert, Professor Charles Smith, Alumni Representative Brooklynn Pham, Foundation Representative Monya Lane, UC Staff Assembly President Priya Lakireddy, Associated Students President Erik Flores, and Larisa Gavrilova of the UC Merced Graduate Student Association.

The advisory committee will be involved in recruiting, screening and conducting interviews with candidates for the position. The committee’s work will be scheduled so that candidates can be presented to Napolitano for consideration and a recommended nominee submitted to the Board of Regents for approval, tentatively by May 2020.

The committee’s first meeting will be held Sept. 24 on the UC Merced campus, where members and invited guests will gather in a closed session. The forum will include remarks by Napolitano, followed by separate sessions with various campus constituency groups. The president and committee members will also participate in a luncheon with alumni, donors and community leaders.

Grant Helps University Ramp Up Food Rescue Efforts

UC Merced’s desire to fight food insecurity in Merced County and on campus got a big boost recently after being awarded a $492,000 grant from CalRecycle.

The university — along with Merced County Food Bank and Blue Strike Environmental — received the grant in an effort to increase food rescues in the county, while also increasing the number of distribution sites that take in food through an extension program within the Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program. The program, created in May 2018, has saved more than 1 million pounds of food from the landfill since its inception.

The extension program funded by the grant will provide outreach and education to a variety of audiences in the county and support diverting waste destined to the landfill, increasing food access while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Support for the development of paid co-curricular internships for UC Merced students that satisfy the sustainability and community engagement intellectual experience badge will be part of the grant as well.

“We are establishing a program that leverages the opportunity to impact our community while providing our students with experiential learning experiences that will include waste audits and greenhouse gas emission reductions,” said Assistant Director of Sustainability Breeana Sylvas. “This will help increase food access while supporting improving community organizations operations and will allow the team to hire a recent graduate to manage the program launch.”

According to the California Food Policy Advocates 2014 census, 52 percent of families in Merced county are food insecure, while 61 percent of students at UC Merced are considered food insecure. The opportunity to continue to impact both segments is a critical function of this program.

“The Merced County Food Bank is excited about this expansion of our joint project with UC Merced,” Merced County Food Bank Executive Director Bill Gibbs said. “Together, we have positively impacted the lives of thousands of our neighbors who are food insecure and low-income through the Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program. The addition of Blue Strike Environmental increases our capacity to connect to more of our agriculture community, which, in turn, will provide more highly nutritious fresh produce, nuts and fruits for our neighbors in need.”

Kristin Cushman, CEO of Blue Strike Environmental, said the project supports a state senate bill that mandates communities focus on building edible food recovery programs that serve a social, environmental and economic mission.

“We are honored to work with Merced County Food Bank, UC Merced, and the local farming community to make this happen,” Cushman said.

*This column has been corrected from an earlier version.

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