Janet Napolitano started her role as UC President this week and the first campus she chose to visit was UC Merced. On Thursday, she took a tour of the campus and met with several staff and faculty on what was her first official visit as UC President.
"I came here first because this campus is just really important. It's really important for the UC system as a whole but it's also important for the Valley here and for the state," said Napolitano. "We want to do everything we can to make sure that it not only succeeds but it thrives moving forward."
UC Merced is the youngest in the 10 campus UC system but it's also one of the fastest growing. Undergraduate fall enrollment reached almost 6,200 students, a 7 percent increase over the last year. "Part of what we need to do is keep building on what we have and making sure that we are providing a campus like Merced which is probably our most diverse campus of all the campuses we have with the highest percentage of first generation [college] students," said Napolitano.
And campus leaders were pleased as to what the new UC President had to say. "I'm convinced even more now that she will be a great leader for the University of California and a great supporter of this campus and region," said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland.
Napolitano promises to lead through listening and learning -- something she already put into practice as she heard directly from some students and their concerns. "Originally, UC tuition was fairly accessible to a lot of students and now it's putting a burden on many students with student loans," said Jennifer Anaya, a 3rd year student.
"She's not exactly sure which direction she's going to go into, that's why she's making an effort to meet with all of us to see what we have to say about her new position," said Aja Johnson, a 3rd year Biology student.
Napolitano says will visit the remaining 9 UC campuses to talk with more students and faculty.