New Chancellor Muñoz


New Chancellor Muñoz


UC Merced’s new chancellor has hit the ground running.

Juan Sánchez Muñoz knows he has much to discover about the university he now leads. His first priority has been to ensure his colleagues’ safety amid a once-in-a-generation pandemic that has reshaped how the campus community works, teaches and learns.

Muñoz, who became UC Merced’s fourth chancellor on July 6, has wasted no time leading – informed by experience as a student and educator at California universities and sharpened as an administrator in Texas.

“It’s important to listen. It’s also important to act while you’re listening,” Muñoz said in a mid-July interview with Senior Public Information Office Michelle Morgante. “I have a sense of urgency that sometimes translates for people as impatience. But I think we have a finite window of opportunity to do some things.”

Among Muñoz’s first initiatives:

A partnership between UC Merced and Merced College to raise community awareness about safe and healthy practices during the COVID-19 crisis.

Supporting creation of the Valuing Black Lives Task Force, which will seek enduring change in areas such as anti-Black violence, community engagement, and faculty and staff recruitment.

The chancellor came to Merced from Texas, where he was president of the University of Houston-Downtown, but his roots are solid Golden State. Muñoz received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC Santa Barbara, a master’s in Mexican American studies from Cal State Los Angeles, and his doctorate from UCLA, where he studied curriculum and instruction. He taught at Cal State Fullerton and other Southern California colleges.

Muñoz said his parents, both Mexican immigrants to California, instilled in him a sense of obligation to those who helped him in his personal journey. He said coming to Merced gives him an opportunity to give back to the UC system.

“The one thing that I’ve recognized in my short time at UC Merced is the hope and the optimism of the people here,” Muñoz told Morgante. “I couldn’t be more impressed by the ambition of our faculty, by the resilience of our staff, and by the promise of our students.”

Some of Chancellor Muñoz’s Goals for UC Merced:

Earn R1 status, the highest rating for research activity by the Carnegie classification system. UC Merced earned R2 status in 2016 after only a decade of existence.

Support the establishment of a medical school to serve the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Construct a building for medical education and for health and behavioral sciences.

Develop policies and research that confirm the university’s status as a hub for racial equality and social justice.

Increase enrollment of San Joaquin Valley students by raising awareness of the university as a welcoming and rewarding destination for education and personal growth.

Make the new Conference Center a go-to facility in the San Joaquin Valley for high-level events and speakers.

Explore More

Valuing Black Lives Task Force

Part of a broader commitment to substantive change

'I Am Deeply Honored'

UC Merced welcomes a new leader at an extraordinary time

Watch a Q&A with the Chancellor

Dr. Muñoz sits down for an video interview with Senior Public Officer Michelle

UC Merced/ Merced College


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