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New UC Merced Provost talks vision

POSTED December 21, 2012 7:33 p.m.

Tom Peterson has been in his new post of University of California, Merced Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for less than a month, but already has a plan laid out for the college.

Peterson, a former head of the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation and past dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona, says priority number one is to build a strong relationship with the faculty.

“I want to support their efforts to raise the stature of the institution,” Peterson said. “I want to help them shape the strategic directions for the university, knowing full well that there are many views about what those directions should be, and not all views can be accommodated.”

Peterson chose to work at UC Merced because that direction is not yet set in stone, he said. As a nascent university, research and educational methodologies and pedagogies can be quickly changed.

Despite the young campus, many researchers are already recognized worldwide as experts in their fields. Peterson said he hopes his experience at the NSF may help in attracting research grants, further building the campus’ notability.

As the campus grows, it must remain dedicated to research, focusing on specific fields where researchers have seen success, Peterson said.

“My vision for Merced is that we become a research-intensive university with the strength of commitment and recognition due all the campuses in this prestigious UC system,” Peterson said. “To do that, I believe, will require the discipline to focus on key areas and not try to become “all things to all people”.

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