Induction day was a little different this year at UC Merced. Senator Barbara Boxer made a visit to the grounds to discuss clean energy, take a tour of campus facilities, and meet with a select group of students.
That Thursday morning, Boxer met with Chancellor Dorothy Leland before being given a walk-through of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute by director Roger Bales. The Sierra Nevada Research Institute conducts applied research on issues like rapid population growth, competition for natural resources, air, water, and soil pollution, as well as climate change and competing land uses. Also a professor in the School of Engineering, Bales, along with graduate student researchers, exhibited current projects in development.
“We really wanted to give Senator Boxer a feel for what we are doing,” said Bales. “We have the instruments to show her our lab and how those fit in our research for water management. We really hope Senator Boxer left here with an appreciation of what we are doing.”
Her topic of discussion with students concerned the job sector and how the “green” and energy fields could affect it. With the clean energy sector providing more jobs in California than any other state, Boxer believes research in these fields invests in the future of employment and those students pursuing it.
“We can and we must ensure that America is the leader in clean energy technology,” Boxer said. “You’re right in the middle of this, right here.”
Discussing topics ranging from issues of the Central Valley all the way to her approval ratings, Boxer made a point to express her objective to fight to work on infrastructure and creating jobs despite low support from the residents of this part of the state.
“My approval rate in the Central Valley has never been good over time. It tends to go more Republican. I think that's changing," she said. "I don't worry about these approval rates -- times are really hard.”
Daniel Alejandro Martinez, a student in attendance and member of Democrats at UC Merced, was appreciative of Boxer’s visit and feels it adds to the campus reputation to have notables like her frequent the school.
“It’s really great to have people of her stature come visit our school,” said Martinez, “You always hear about how lucky we are to be here [at UC Merced], but it really is great to see someone like her.”
Boxer praised students for their commitment to higher education and attendance to UC Merced.
“In this harsh economic outlook, what you're doing is investing in yourself," she said. “You’re smart that you found your way here.”
Chancellor Leland showed appreciation to the Senator for her visit and reassured her of the campus’ plans for the future.
“Over 5,000 students will spend the next nine months learning, growing and conducting research on our campus.”
Boxer’s visit marks the first for a U.S. Senator to the UCM campus. After her visit, the Senator continued to her next stop in Fresno.