By Daniel Muñoz
University of California President Richard C. Atkinson today (Tuesday, April 24) named UC Irvine vice chancellor for student affairs Manuel N. Gómez to serve as interim vice president for educational outreach.
Goméz replaces Alex Sara-goza, the University of California's highest-ranking Latino, who recently resigned under pressure after he admitted giving credit to two athletes who never attended his class while a professor at UC Berkeley.
Saragoza, who served 10 months as the vice president for educational outreach, acknowledged, after an independent investigator found evidence of fraud, giving two former Cal football players credit for a course he taught at Berkeley in 1999, although they enrolled after the class was over and did not complete the work.
In a letter released Tuesday Saragoza stated that he was resigning out of concern that his outreach efforts had been "compromised by recent outside events"
UC President Richard Atkinson, who had been under pressure recently by the university's Board of Regents to oust Saragoza or urge him to step down, accepted the resignation with regret but described the decision as "necessary".
Gómez, who will assume his new responsibilities on May 14, has agreed to serve six months, by which time Atkinson will appoint a permanent successor. To that end, Atkinson also announced that he would immediately appoint a search committee to find qualified candidates for the critical systemwide post.
As interim systemwide vice president, Gómez will oversee a complex and far-reaching educational outreach effort by the University of California designed to prepare larger numbers of students for admission to the university. The systemwide outreach office also coordinates the uni-versity's efforts to work with K-12 educators and other segments of higher education across the state to improve teacher quality and student performance.
"Dr. Gómez is the ideal person to lead the university's outreach initiatives over the next several months," Atkinson said. "He is a strong administrator and innovator with a proven track record of success at UC Irvine. He believes, as I do, in the importance of UC's commitment to reach out across the state to improve teacher quality and to increase educational opportunities for students from all backgrounds."
Under Gómez, UC Irvine's outreach and admissions efforts are considered among the most innovative and successful in the UC system. Gómez is particularly known for his work to strengthen ties with community colleges throughout the state. That effort this year resulted in a 15-percent increase in transfer applications to UC Irvine.
For the last 10 years, Gómez has also administered the systemwide California Alliances for Minority Participation. Under the National Science Foundation-funded grant program, one of only 30 in the nation, faculty members provide mentorships and laboratory research experiences to undergraduate students. It is regarded as a model for engaging faculty to work directly with underrepresented minority students.
(Excerpts taken from the "Los Angeles Times", April 25, 2001)