At Cal State Monterey Bay, we take pride in our commitment to provide access and to support the success of students that reflect the diversity of our great state.

That mission is entirely consistent with our effort to produce elite scholars. Every day, we show that the most accomplished students can emerge from a wide variety of backgrounds.

No program at our university proves that more clearly than does the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC), which helps propel students from a variety of disciplines to the first rank of undergraduate scholars.

Recently, the National Science Foundation announced that three of our graduating seniors – Emily Roncase of Ridgecrest, Michael Diaz of Upland and Liz Lopez of Sacramento – and one of our alums – Stacy Mauzey of Salinas, who is now studying at Washington State University – have received $90,000 graduate school fellowships through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Only 10 undergraduates in the 23-campus CSU system received these awards.

The NSF received 13,400 applications for the program and awarded 2,000 fellowships. Only about 30 percent of the fellowships went to undergraduate students.

The announcement continues a remarkable record of success for our university in this area. Over the past four years, nine Cal State Monterey Bay seniors and one alumna have received the Graduate Research Fellowships.

This is attributable, first, to the hard work and perseverance of these exceptional students. But, this consistent run of success could not have occurred without the efforts of UROC--founded and led by Dr. William Head--which brings together scholars and faculty mentors from across the university.

Roncase was mentored by Drs. Henrik Kibak and Aparna Sreenivasan. Diaz also worked with Dr. Sreenivasan. Lopez was mentored by Dr. James Lindholm. During her undergraduate years, Mauzey worked worked with Dr. Carolee Bull in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service facility in Salinas.

Adding to UROC’s record of success, CSUMB student Omar Davila of San Leandro recently received an award for the Best Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences at the Tenth Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education. His talk was titled, "A Lesson to Learn: Characteristics of California's Low-Performing School Districts."

Students in all disciplines are accomplishing great things on our campus. That was made abundantly clear at our Honors Convocation held earlier this month in the University Center ballroom. The room was packed with outstanding students and their proud family members and friends.

Events like these are reminders of why it can be so rewarding to work in higher education. The stories of student success are inspiring, and I am also inspired by the work of faculty and staff who are helping to create more student success stories each academic year.

Faculty Incentive Grants: Speaking of faculty excellence, the recipients of the 2013 Faculty Incentive Grants were announced recently. The Faculty Incentive Grant program helps non-tenured assistant and associate professors fund proposals that offer the potential to attract extramural funding.

Awardees this year included Dr. Arlene Haffa and Dr. Cheryl Logan, both in the Division of Science and Environmental Policy; Dr. Dina Wirick in the Division of Social, Behavioral, and Global Studies/Psychology Program; Dr. Estella Porras in the Division of Humanities and Communication; and Dr. Lisa Leininger in the Kinesiology Department.

These grants, supported by funding from the University Corporation, can provide an important boost for faculty members at the early stages of an academic career. For more details on the program and the awardees, click on this link.

As always, I welcome your comments on this newsletter or on any issues facing the university. You may direct them to president@csumb.edu

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Eduardo M. Ochoa
Interim President, Cal State Monterey Bay