Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer

Search for the Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer
University of California, Merced

Merced, CA

The University of California (UC) Merced, the youngest campus in the world-renowned University of California system, seeks a new Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer (VC-COO) to help lead this unique institution into an exciting new era of rapid growth and distinction within the UC system and among research universities globally. With many aspirations and a recent $1.3 billion physical expansion, UC Merced is at a pivotal moment — a young campus moving into maturity. With many of its foundational needs now met, the institution seeks an innovative and collaborative Vice Chancellor and COO to help continue its incredible trajectory. 

Opened in 2005, the University of California, Merced was the first new University of California campus created in 40 years, and the first American research university of the twenty-first century. After only 16 years of operation, UC Merced now ranks #38 among public universities and #93 overall among national universities in the annual US News & World Report rankings. In the past four years, the campus has risen 72 spots. Times Higher Education ranks UC Merced #3 in the US among young universities, and #7 in Sierra Magazine’s “2021 Cool Schools.” UC Merced achieved R2 status (“doctoral-granting university with higher research activity,” per the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education) in record time and is now setting a very ambitious trajectory toward quickly earning R1 status.


Additionally, the campus has earned Carnegie’s prestigious Classification for Community Engagement, a testament to its deep commitment to the Central Valley. Since welcoming its first freshman class, UC Merced has grown in enrollment to approximately 9,100 students, including 770 graduate students in its three Schools: School of Engineering; School of Natural Sciences; and the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. Additionally, the Ernest & Julio Gallo School of Management is currently being established and will be the first new school since the campus’ opening. Envisioned as a “management school of the future,” this school will encompass interdisciplinary areas like cognition, economics, complexity, data science, sustainability, and management.


The next major capital project for the campus will be a 182,698 gross square foot Health, Behavioral Sciences and Medical Education (HBS-ME) building, currently in the planning and design phase and estimated to cost approximately $210 million. The building will be programmed and designed to provide instructional facilities for medical education and other allied healthcare-related courses that are able to evolve as these programs mature. Project sustainability targets and goals include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED™) minimum building certification level of Gold, with incentives for Platinum. The HBS-ME building is anticipated to be the first fully electrified capital project on campus.



Working with faculty, staff, and students across the UC Merced community, as well as with leaders from the UC System and regional communities, the next VC-COO will continue to enhance the campus’ reputation by helping to address a set of key opportunities and challenges, as follows:

  • Support UC Merced’s path to R1 status through careful planning and stewardship of physical space and operations
  • Embed UC Merced’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion in all strategies and activities of the VC-COO’s division
  • Continue to support UC Merced’s proven commitment to sustainability
  • Strengthen relationships and trust across the University by providing regular, clear, and transparent communications about campus planning, operations, and safety
  • Lead a cohesive unit by managing the departments within the COO’s portfolio through continued change  
  • Serve as an excellent citizen and representative of the campus


Isaacson, Miller, the national executive search firm, has been retained to support UC Merced in this recruitment. Confidential inquiries, nominations, referrals, and CVs with cover letters and diversity statements should be in confidence via electronic mail to:


Rebecca Kennedy, Partner

Jaime Morgen, Associate


The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see: