UC Merced Connect: Campus ranks among “Cool Schools” for sustainability

UC Merced has been ranked among the “Cool Schools” by the Sierra Club’s Sierra Magazine because of its commitment to sustainability.

The ranking, which was released last week, looked at more than 170 campuses around the country, and UC Merced is ranked No. 51.

All of the UC undergraduate campuses made the list, with UC Irvine ranking No. 1.

This year’s rankings for other UC campuses: UC San Diego, 17; UC Santa Barbara, 24; UC Berkeley, 32; UC Santa Cruz, 35; UC Davis, 55; UCLA, 60; and UC Riverside, 90.

Cool Schools rankings come from a survey of sustainability practices at 173 four-year undergraduate universities in the United States. UC campuses have been routinely represented in the top 10 of the rankings since Sierra began publishing them in 2007.

UC Merced is the only campus to have every single building project LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and sustainability is part of the campus identity – from grounds, facilities, maintenance and purchasing policies to recycling and reuse in and out of classrooms and labs, as well as in research and curriculum.

Service-minded scholars reap awards

For six Oakland students who received a $5,000 UC scholarship Thursday from the UC Office of the President, helping others has been as important to their high school experience as geometry and English literature.

The award came as a surprise to the recipients and their families, who were unaware of the scholarships until they received a notice from UC President Janet Napolitano’s office in their email.

“I thought, this can’t be real. Somebody’s playing a joke on me,” said Ojalique Genaeda Frison, a McClymonds High School graduate who is headed to UC Merced. “It was a big relief because I thought I was going to have to take out a loan.

The first in her family to go to college, she is paying for college entirely on her own. The aid, she said, will enable her to avoid having to take a part-time job.

Frison mentored elementary and middle school students as part of the Culture Keepers program, helped distribute food during the holidays through a meals program, and acted as a peer tutor for ninth- and 10th-graders. She plans to major in psychology.

The scholarship, launched this year, was given to students who had graduated from Oakland public schools and plan to attend a UC campus in the fall. The award is part of an effort by the UC President’s Office, based in Oakland, to build stronger partnerships with the community.

The scholarship review committee selected finalists based largely on their UC admissions applications and their community service, with every recipient reporting more than 600 hours of volunteer work.

“It is great to see students who in high school are already doing things to make people’s lives better,” Napolitano said at a luncheon to congratulate recipients and their families. The scholarship program, she said, “is our contribution as members of the Oakland community, and as a public research university system that serves California and its students.”

While not a precondition of the award, recipients all qualify for UC’s Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, which covers tuition and fees for California resident students whose total family income is less than $80,000.