University Friends Circle

The University Friends Circle forges strong relationships between UC Merced and communities of the Central Valley through programs that promote social and intellectual interaction. The University Friends Circle raises funds to support an endowed scholarship that is awarded to students based on an active and ongoing commitment to the community. Membership is available to anyone who supports the mission and activities of the organization.

Board of Directors

President: Carole Whitehill

Program Co-Chair (Logistics): Barbara Hoffman

Program Co-Chair (Speakers): Gaye Riggs and Lee Andersen

Secretary: Kay Chapman

Treasurer: Teri Albrecht

Past President: Gaye Riggs

Director-at-Large: Olivia Rivera

Director-at-Large: Vacant

Historian: Kathy Hansen

Guardian Scholars Liaison: Betty Dawson

Chancellor's Designee: Kyle Hoffman


Committee Chairs

Awards: Ann Andersen and Paula Gleason

Common Interests Groups: Lavina Palmberg and Pauline Cuchna

Communications: Andrew Alkema

Fundraising: Judy Pfitzer-Boyer

Membership: Judy Edwina-Smith

About Us
University Friends Circle (UFC) was the inspiration of Chancellor Steve Kang's Associate, Mia Kang. In 2008 she formed an organizing group that consisted of community leaders, business people and UC Merced staff and faculty to begin the process of designing and defining the goals and objectives of UFC.

All University of California campuses have groups that are analogous to UFC. What makes UFC unique is that it welcomes all interested parties, who share the common mission of UFC. There is no requirement to have a college degree, it's not exclusive to faculty and staff spouses and it specifically seeks membership from all members of the Central Valley communities.

Chancellor and Mia Kang also endowed the UFC Scholarship fund with a very generous initial donation. Membership fees and other donations continue to grow the scholarship fund and in 2009 the first awards were made. Annual scholarships will be awarded.
Scholarships and Awards


The mission of UFC includes fundraising initiatives that support a UC Merced scholarship program. When UFC was founded, then Chancellor Steve Kang and his wife Mia provided the initial endowment, establishing the University Friends Circle Scholarship Fund.  This fund continues to grow from individual donations, a major fundraising event begun in 2013, and a portion of our operating funds left over at the end of our fiscal year.  Currently, based on leadership and civic engagement in the Merced community, a UC Merced student is selected and receives a $1,000 scholarship, and a UC Merced student organization is selected and receives a $1,000 award.  They are recognized both at the Office of Student Life Leadership Awards event and at the UFC May program meeting.   


The UC Merced Office of Student Life partners with UFC to provide an on line application process, market and promote the awards, and set up the UFC Scholarship Committee interviews. The UFC Scholarship Committee evaluates the applications, sets the criteria, conducts the interviews, and selects the recipients for the Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship and the Community Service Organization Award.  Recipients selected exhibit leadership skills to organize meaningful service to others, demonstrate an active and ongoing commitment to the Merced Community, and have had a significant impact in the community as a result of a key project. 

Scholarship and Award Recipients

Since 2009 University Friends Circle has recognized the following UC Merced students and organizations:


Community Service Organization Award -  Rotaract


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Shane Kavanaugh

Community Service Organization Award – Alpha Phi Omega


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Gabriel Rodriguez

Community Service Organization Award – Rho Omicron Chapter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Noel Justin Lee Gomez

Community Service Organization Award – Energy Conservation Corps


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Merlyn Perez

Community Service Organization Award – Science Alliance

University Friends Circle Calendar

11:30 AM to 1:00 PM

Registration is from February 10th through February 26th.

This month you will have the opportunity to find out how the Blum Center at UC Merced is inspiring community innovation!
University Friends Circle - March Lunch Program
6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

InterCampus Gathering at UC Santa Cruz: Celebrate their 50th Anniversary!

The setting is the Horticulture Building in the beautiful UCSC Arboretum, located near the main entrance to campus. A continental breakfast, a box lunch and tours are included in the $75 fee. Breakfast will be ready after 8:45 with welcoming remarks planned for 9:15. The tours will end no later than 3:30.
UFC InterCampus Gathering <br> at UC Santa Cruz
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM

Registration is from March 17th through April 2nd.

Join Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson as he presents on UC Merced's academic growth and new areas for research.
University Friends Circle - April Lunch Program
6:30 PM

We look forward to your attendance at the upcoming UC Merced University Friends Circle Scholarship Fundraiser Event. Opportunities for support include sponsorships and/or individual tickets.
UFC Amoré Italiano
5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Registration is from April 10th through April 24th.

Please join us for our annual reception where we award scholarships to deserving students and organizations, as well as conduct our annual business meeting.
University Friends Circle - May Reception
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