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President Leland recommended as chancellor of UC Merced

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Posted: 
May 10, 2011

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.

Dorothy LelandDorothy LelandLeland, 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, enhancing both the academic aspects and physical facilities, overseeing a 54 percent increase in federal research and sponsored program funding during the past five years and reaching into surrounding communities with economic development and educational initiatives. Her leadership was lauded by Georgia Trend magazine, which placed her among the 100 Most Influential Georgians and as one of four Georgia “Power Women.”

“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 July 1.

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. Georgia College ranks third in the University System of Georgia in the average SAT and ACT scores of entering freshmen and in student retention, behind only Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. 

As Georgia College president, Leland has focused on enriching the student learning experience through expanded experiential learning opportunities in undergraduate research, service learning, internships, residential learning communities and study abroad.  She also has grown the university’s graduate programs and established the Center for Graduate and Professional Learning in Macon, offering graduate degrees in business, criminal justice, education, health sciences and public administration, as well as continuing education opportunities for working professionals.

“Serving as president of Georgia College has been a wonderful experience and I greatly appreciate all the support that I have received from the state, the community and our outstanding faculty, staff and students,” Leland said.  “I am very proud of all that Georgia College has accomplished in the past seven and a half years to enhance the quality of the academic experience and to strengthen the engaged learning that contributes so vitally to making this one of the best public liberal arts universities in the nation.”

USG Chancellor Erroll Davis Jr. said that “Dr. Leland has not just built Georgia College & State University into one of the nation’s top public liberal arts universities, she also has worked on a number of special assignments to help strengthen the entire University System of Georgia. She has enriched this system, Georgia College and the lives of its students by her leadership and her efforts.”

Leland, the current president of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges and a recent past president of the Southern University Conference, serves on the boards of the Council of Higher Education Accreditation and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Leland also serves on the Georgia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Georgia Council on Economic Education, among other community organizations.

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, and the USG Excellence in Public/Private Ventures in both 2007 and 2010 for innovative approaches to financing the university’s west campus development and Campus Theatre renovation.

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 1993 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.

“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, I love higher education, and I look forward to working with the UC Merced faculty, staff 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.

A photo and additional biographical information about Dorothy Leland are available at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news. The agenda for the Board of Regents meeting is available at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/regents/meeting.html.  For information about UC Merced, go to http://www.ucmerced.edu/about_ucmerced/.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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