Re: Leadership Transitions
To: All campus
May 3, 2021

Dear Campus Community
I would like to update the campus on several Cabinet-level leadership recruitments and transitions. The search for a permanent Vice Chancellor for the Division of Finance and Administration (DFA) has been paused until the new year. Unfortunately, the search was not successful at this time in yielding the right candidate for UC Merced. This is a critically important position for our campus and it is my intention to ensure it is filled by the person best suited to help lead the finances of the university as it makes its way toward R1 designation.

However, I am pleased to announce that Kurt Schnier, Ph.D., has agreed to continue to lead DFA and to serve as Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Schnier has provided oversight to DFA functional areas since October 2020, helping UC Merced establish budget priorities and protocols that have been critical in the midst of financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Dr. Schnier is a Professor of Economics, a former Department Chair and Senate Chair, and has served as the Associate Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Academic Planning and Budget since 2019, a role which he will step away from while serving as Interim Vice Chancellor.

Interim Vice Chancellor Schnier will oversee accounting, finance, budget, procurement and auxiliaries. Human Resources will continue to report to the division of the Chancellor, and the Center for Institutional Effectiveness will continue to report to the division of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.

UC Merced is in the final stages of recruitment for the chief campus counsel position, as Elisabeth Gunther has announced her intention to retire by June 2021. I hope to share more with you about the outcome of this search very soon.

Later this year, we will begin two more vital searches for leadership positions. Michael McLeod, Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, anticipates retiring at the end of December 2021, and Dr. Marjorie Zatz, Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, will step down from the interim role in June 2022. I continue to appreciate their service to this institution and the value they bring to their roles and to UC Merced.

Change is certainly in the air. These leadership transitions remind me of the transition to come for many of us as we emerge from the pandemic and are being asked to adapt to return to in-person work and service. I look forward to this change, and to the innovation, creativity, and adaptation it will require from each of us, as we work alongside one another to fulfill the mission of UC Merced.


Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.