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.
The University Friends Circle Endowed Scholarship supports recipients that 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.
2017-18 Board of Directors and Committee Chairs

Elected Officers

President: Gaye Riggs

1st Vice President (President-Elect): Mindy Broadley

Co-2nd Vice President (Program Content): Mary Miller

Co-2nd Vice President (Program Content): Kelli Abrescy

Co-2nd Vice President (Program Arrangements): Chris Long

Co-2nd Vice President (Program Arrangements): Terri Ward

Secretary: Martha Goodwin

Treasurer: Carole Whitehill

Immediate Past President: Judy Edwinia Smith



Chancellor's Designee: Vacant

Common Interest Committee Co-Chair: Pauline Cuchna

Common Interest Committee Co-Chair: Lavina Palmberg

Special Events Committee Co-Chair: Judy Pfitzer-Boyer

Special Events Committee Co-Chair: Mindy Broadley

Membership Committee Chair: Nancy Young-Bergman

Scholarships/Awards Committee: Rich Gipson

Governance Chair: Kathy Hansen

Historian: Kathy Hansen

Director-at- Large: Joanna Browning

Director-at-Large: Mike Cuchna

Director-at- Large: Karen Le Cocq


Non-Voting Members

UC Merced Chancellor: Dorothy Leland

University Staff Liaison: Virginia Lerer

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:


Distinguished Volunteer Scholarship – Marqose Saephan

Community Service Organization Award – Ingenieros Unidos


Distinguished Volunteer Scholarship – Dalton Rogers

Community Service Organization Award – Ingenieros Unidos


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Merlyn Perez

Community Service Organization Award – Science Alliance


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Noel Justin Lee Gomez

Community Service Organization Award – Energy Conservation Corps


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Gabriel Rodriguez

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


Community Volunteer Leadership Scholarship – Shane Kavanaugh

Community Service Organization Award – Alpha Phi Omega


Community Service Organization Award -  Rotaract