UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA MERCED
THE FUTURE OF...
Combining Management of Innovation, Sustainability and Technology, UC Merced's MIST program will equip tomorrow's leaders with 21st-century solutions. The program's comprehensive complex-systems management integrates nearly every other discipline on campus, from cognitive science to engineering, natural sciences and psychology.
If, as the saying goes, California leads the nation, then the University of California leads California.
That puts UC Merced, the newest and most innovative campus, at the spear point of not just the state, but the entire country. What happens here will ripple deeply, far into the future.
UC Merced stands at the center of a state filled with rich and diverse histories and heritages, and at the epicenter of a technical revolution at a time when the intricacies of the world’s most pressing issues are becoming more and more apparent to everyone.
There are no easy answers. Today demands unorthodox approaches to every question humans ask.
Because UC Merced pioneers and embraces cross-collaborations and new and unorthodox approaches to research and teaching, our students get well-rounded and inspiring understanding of the subjects they study from a variety of perspectives.
By doing everything just a little differently, UC Merced is training the next generations of leaders in fields that demand that kind of complex thinking now and for the future...
“we want students to understand how people, technology and nature operate together, and
how we can better engineer these systems.”
THE FUTURE OF LEADERSHIP
People, Planet and Profit Give New Management Program its Unique Focus
Christian Aguayo is helping build the future at UC Merced — physically and academically.
Aguayo is a project engineer for Webcor Builders, the contractor building UC Merced’s ambitious Merced 2020 Project that will nearly double the physical campus and making room for more students, faculty and staff.
He’s also part of the first 10-student cohort in the campus’s new one-year Master of Management program, UC Merced’s first professional graduate degree program.
The 2020 Project will wrap up, but the Master of Management (MM) degree program is just beginning.
The program puts a new spin on a traditional area of study, applying the expertise of a group of faculty members from diverse backgrounds to create a holistic educational experience that teaches management from different perspectives. Through it, the students will develop practical skills for working in an increasingly complex world.
Because UC Merced is such a young university, it is unconstrained by “the way things have always been done.” The interdisciplinary and innovative spirit at the university’s core aligns perfectly with the future of leadership and management, whether it’s corporate, governmental or nonprofit, MM faculty members said.
This is the kind of program that could only emerge at UC Merced.
“This is a professional program that will expose students to the real world, to the complexity of the real world,” said Professor Paul Maglio, chair of the Department of Management of Complex Systems and founder of the MM program. “We’re not interested in stripping away everything that makes management hard — we want students to understand how people, technology and nature operate together, and how we can better engineer these systems.”
All student activities will focus on the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet and profit.
Students in the MM program are embarking on a 12-month boot-camp that will provide them with the breadth of knowledge and experience demanded by today’s for-profit companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Every class is co-taught by at least two faculty members, and students will participate in individual work, small-group projects and a team-based capstone project. The program also provides the opportunity to travel locally and globally to see management and practices in action and in context.
Professor Anita Bhappu, chair of the MM program, comes from a traditional management background and said this program is unique.
“We’re combining faculty and disciplines in ways that are not traditionally done in other management programs,” she said. “This is the direction leadership is headed for the future.”
“THIS COULDN'T BE MORE PERFECT FOR ME”
IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR
The MM degree program is offered by the Management of Innovation, Sustainability and Technology (MIST) graduate group, associated primarily with the Department of Management of Complex Systems in the School of Engineering. The department also offers a new undergraduate minor in management analytics and decision-making.
The program aligns management with cognitive science and includes scholars who specialize in water, forest and natural lands management, environmental economics, traditional management, big-data analytics, service science, entrepreneurship, philosophy, the evolution of large multiscale socio-economic systems, climate change, the economics of information systems, security and privacy, knowledge management and behavioral operations, among other areas.
They’ll help students learn to look at every aspect of managing complex systems, from the ethics and analytics that should guide decision-making and the design of such systems to understanding the unintended ripple-effects decisions can have.
Students with bachelor’s degrees in any discipline can apply for admission to the MM program. While recruitment in this first year focused on graduating UC Merced seniors, the program is open to anyone — including Aguayo, 28, from Los Banos, who graduated from Cal Poly in 2017 with a degree in engineering and a job with Webcor. He already knew he was interested in a graduate degree and debated getting an MBA or attending grad school at UC Merced.
Then he heard about the MM program.
As a project manager, he works in a complex system every day, communicating with different groups of people with different goals and functions, and must coordinate them all to accomplish the larger tasks.
Call it coincidence or harmonic convergence — either way Aguayo is excited.
“This couldn’t be more perfect for me,” he said.
Two current, full-time UC Merced staff members, Taylor Fugere, the campus’s coordinator of women’s programs, and Marisela Angel, the management service officer for the campus IT department, are also among the first cohort.
Fugere said she heard about the program through Professor Alex Petersen, when she sat in on one of his classes.
“I really love how interdisciplinary it is and how it emphasizes the changing environment,” Fugere said. Her office oversees several leadership programs, so the work will be immediately applicable.
“I really love how
interdisciplinary it is
and how it emphasizes
the changing environment.”
“I’m excited about
the variety in the
program. It’s not
Fugere said she also sees how the program will provide her with skills to adapt as UC Merced grows and changes.
For Angel, the program is a way of reaching a personal goal.
“I had wanted to get my master’s, and this is a great opportunity,” she said. “I’m excited about the variety in the program. It’s not just business management.”
Both have supportive managers who are making it possible for them to flex their work schedules or work part-time to accommodate the block of weekday afternoon classes. Aguayo said his supervisors are encouraging and will work with him on his schedule, too.
ROOM TO GROW
It’s not just the students who are anticipating the new program.
“What’s really exciting about it is that we, as faculty, are going to be learning, too, as the program evolves,” Bhappu said.
Other faculty members say they are looking forward to seeing how it will all work — the co-taught classes, the incorporation of so many different backgrounds and interests and the thrill of building a brand-new program from scratch — it’s all part of what draws many people to UC Merced in the first place.
“When they were hiring for the program, professors Maglio and (Leroy) Westerling had a specific philosophy — to bring all these different specialties together. It’s extremely trailblazing,” said Professor Catherine Keske, an environmental economist. “We all have very entrepreneurial mindsets, and that is definitely going to help us succeed.”
Petersen, who is an expert in complex systems, said he looks forward to teaching the students, many of whom have little or no real-world experience.
“I bring a technical perspective, and I can’t wait to show students how to apply data analytics to management — how and when empirical evidence can provide guidance in how to account for risk and uncertainty,” he said.
Faculty members say they are also interested in the structure of the classes, in which students will be divided into smaller work groups. Teamwork, Professor Russ McBride said, is a skill that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“Employers complain all the time about people’s inability to function within a team environment,” he said. “We’re going to give students experience working in groups on non-linear problems that have uncertainties — just like the real world.”
“I bring a technical perspective,
and I can’t wait to show
students how to apply data
analytics to management
— how and when empirical
evidence can provide
guidance in how to account
for risk and uncertainty”
“In sixth grade, I did a report on the CEO
of the Gallo company because to me,
the Gallos are local heroes. They have had such
a huge influencE on my life and on the Central Valley."
a bridge to THE FUTURE
Though everyone in the first cohort has his or her personal reasons for wanting the MM degree, Ruben Lemus, a 22-year-old UC Merced alum from Bakersfield, has perhaps the most personal connection.
The MM program, like the management department, graduate group and new minor, are all part of the Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program, which is laying the foundation for a new management and leadership school at UC Merced funded through a generous endowment from the E&J Gallo Winery and family.
As a child, Lemus’ family worked for the Gallo farms, picking fruit. He has always paid attention to the successful Modesto-based ranchers and vintners.
“In sixth grade, I did a report on the CEO of the Gallo company because to me, the Gallos are local heroes,” Lemus said. “They have had such a huge influence on my life and on the Central Valley. Now I’m in the Gallo management program. I hope to work for them someday.”
Lemus, who graduated in May, said he was surprised to hear about the program from a fellow student.
“I didn’t think we had anything like this for management,” he said. He was looking at MBA programs out of the area but got excited about the new MM program because it’s here in Merced, where he is happy.
“It’s only a small change for me, going into this one-year program, but it will be a huge step for my career,” he said. As the first in his family to complete college, Lemus said he was unsure about coming to Merced initially because he didn’t know about leaving home or whether he could do well at university. But in his four years here he built up his confidence. Now he is a role model for his younger brother, who plans to go to college, too.
Down the road, he said, he and his brother would like to start a family business.
That’s the kind of ambition MM faculty members are promoting and encouraging.
They are providing outreach to industry and plan to bring in industry partners to meet, mentor and network with the students. They have also set the ambitious goal of placing every MM graduate in jobs within six months of graduation — a measurable outcome that will demonstrate success.
“We have high expectations for ourselves,” Maglio said. “We want to help these students become T-shaped professionals — people who have more than just depth in their areas of expertise, but broad experience across many areas so that they can work with a variety of people."
“The kind of training we’re offering is exactly what companies and other organizations are looking for.”
“We want to help these students become T-shaped professionals — people who have more than just depth in their areas of expertise, but broad experience across many areas so that they can work with a variety of people."
Building next generation leaders of tomorrow,
right here in the heart of California...