UC Merced's new Chancellor visits campus

FRESNO, Calif.

Dr. Dorothy Leland will take over for current Chancellor, Steve Kang, when he steps down on June 30.

Dorothy Leland grew up in the rural southern California town of Fillmore, and says it's nice to be back in her home state after serving as President of Georgia College.

But she knows she's taking on this new role during a time of unprecendented state budget trouble.

Doctor Dorothy Leland got a golf cart tour of U.C. Merced, and a chance to briefly meet with some faculty members and students Thursday.

Leland says she was instantly impressed by the beauty of the campus and the diversity of the young researchers here.

She also spoke about the need to build more facilities for the growing student body, which is nearing 5,000 but admitted that won't be easy.

"The state of California has had wealthier periods in its history so we're going to have to find creative new ways to get these facilities built quickly."

Leland expects to have a more concrete plan for the university's future within the next three months. Students we spoke with say funding is also their top concern.

"Tuitiion prices keep going up and up and up, so it's a challenge, but people can only do so much, so," Erin Ray said.

"When we read her resume, she looked like she'd be a really good fit for our campus, especially because she's brought a lot of federal research money into Georgia," Kyle Hamilton said.

Leland says one key to securing funding for this university will be eliminating any doubt about its importance to the Valley, the state, and the country.

"I want it to have both a state and national reputation for at least one or two areas of excellence. Don't ask me what they are yet, but we can do that."

Leland says she's been invited to have dinner with Chancellor Steve Kang tonight, and she hopes to get some good advice from him before he returns to teaching and research at U.C. Santa Cruz.

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