|Dorothy Leland (click for high-resolution photo)
OAKLAND — University of California President Mark G. Yudof announced today (May 10) he will recommend that the UC Board of Regents appoint Georgia College & State University President Dorothy Leland as chancellor of UC Merced, citing her accomplishments as an institution builder and higher education leader.
Leland, who grew up in the rural Southern California community of Fillmore, emerged from an exhaustive national search as the top candidate to succeed Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang, who announced in September 2010 that he plans to step down as chancellor on June 30, 2011, and return to teaching and research as a UC faculty member. Kang, who became the second chancellor of UC Merced on March 1, 2007, oversaw the growth of both enrollment and the campus itself.
As the 10th president of Georgia College, Leland has led the university to national distinction. Since becoming president on Jan. 1, 2004, she has enhanced both its academic aspects and physical facilities, overseen a 54 percent increase in federal funding for research and sponsored projects during the past five years and reached into surrounding communities with economic development and educational initiatives. Georgia College was cited by U.S. News and World Report this year among a handful of public universities with a "strong commitment to teaching," and was again named to Kiplinger's Top 100 Public Colleges.
"Dorothy Leland is a great fit for UC Merced at this pivotal stage of its development," Yudof said. "She's a proven leader who knows how to bring vision to a mission, and how to build support from different people to get things done."
If approved by the Board of Regents, Leland would take office on July 1.
Leland, a recent past president of the Southern University Conference, serves on the boards of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
She received the 2006 Governor's Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation for her comprehensive approach to the adaptive re-use and rehabilitation of historic buildings on campus. She was recognized as one of the "100 Most Influential Georgians" and one of four Georgia "Power Women" by Georgia Trend magazine.
Leland received a "Distinguished Alumna" award from Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1971, a master's degree in American studies in 1973 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1979. After completing her studies at Purdue, she held visiting faculty positions at California State University-Northridge, California State University-Chico and UC Santa Cruz. She returned to Purdue in 1983 as co-director of its Doctoral Program in Philosophy and Literature, and as an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy. She won awards for excellence in teaching, and was tenured and promoted to associate professor of philosophy. Leland went from Purdue to Florida Atlantic University, where she served as chief planning officer and associate provost before becoming vice president and chief administrative officer of the institution's Boca Raton campus. At Florida Atlantic, she was promoted to professor of philosophy.
"I am energized by the opportunity to serve the first American research university created in the 21st century, to build on all that has been accomplished at UC Merced," Leland said. "I deeply appreciate President Yudof's recommendation of my candidacy. I love California, and I love higher education. I look forward to working with the UC Merced faculty and staff, the students, their families and all of those who will make it possible for the university to grow and thrive — members of the Merced community, public servants, alumni and business people among them."
Yudof and Leland said they will have no further comment until the Board of Regents acts on the proposed appointment at its meeting next week.
The agenda for the Board of Regents meeting is available online.
In its first six years of operation, UC Merced has grown rapidly, with current enrollment exceeding 4,300 students, and has significantly increased college-going rates among students in the San Joaquin Valley. The campus has developed an innovative, entrepreneurial, 21st century environment in which faculty members are immersed in cutting-edge research on issues of vital importance to society as a whole, while bringing valuable investment dollars and leading scholars to the region.
Similarly, the unique interdisciplinary and hands-on nature of its academic programs enables UC Merced students of widely varied backgrounds, ethnicities and learning styles to work collaboratively within or across multiple disciplines to achieve academic success.
UC Merced already has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in sustainable design, construction and operation. No other university in the United States has earned LEED Silver or better for every building on campus, as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The newest UC campus is solidly on the road to fulfilling its mission as the next great research university in the UC system.