Garamendi leaving job at UC Merced in April

MERCED — John Garamendi Jr., vice chancellor for university relations at the University of California at Merced, announced Tuesday evening that he would resign from the post to start his own business.

The news was spread through an e-mail from Chancellor Steve Kang to students and staff at the university.

Garamendi, 39, is leaving the university to start his own consulting business that will specialize in government and education, he said. The business will be based in Walnut Grove, a small community south of Sacramento where he lives with his family.

"Considering his success as chief fund-raiser at UC Merced since June 2005 and experience with helping to build the first research university of the 21st century, I am certain of John's future success," Kang wrote.

Garamendi will continue to work on campus until April 1. He also will continue to serve as corporate vice president and executive director of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees until that time.

Garamendi was appointed as vice chancellor for university relations in May 2005, while the campus was being built. Tuesday evening, minutes after the announcement, he fondly recalled his first interview at the campus when he was "knee-deep in mud," he said.

He referred to the job as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" and said he was proud of the campus's accomplishments to date.

"I love being a part of this campus. I've loved watching it grow. There will never be anything similar to opening a new UC Merced campus," he said. "It's all just wonderful, wonderful memories."

Kang's note said a plan to fill the vacancy would be announced in the near future. Garamendi said he did not know whether he'd have a role in that search.

Immediately before he came to Merced, he served as director of corporate and foundation relations at UC Berkeley. He's also worked at UC Davis and the UC Office of the President.