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Arrived a bit early for a "UC Day" dinner at Sacramento's Sheraton Grand Hotel. Who plopped down in an adjacent seat in the lobby? Mr. UC himself, president Robert C. Dynes.
I was there to show solidarity for UC Merced grads -- yes there are UC Merced alums out there, and they sell the school well. Moreso, I was there to keep hope alive for a UC medical school in the Valley.
So, even though there are 26 voting regents, it would have been unconscionable for me not to chat with the Prez. I'm here to show support for the med school, I told him, because Community Medical Centers would be your biggest partner in educating future physicians.
Dynes rolled out one of his favorite stump speeches. "I'm not saying 'no.' I'm just saying to keep developing the business plan."
Not saying no, I told him, was not the same thing as saying yes. Twenty years ago the Valley couldn't get its act together. That's how UC Merced happened, even though the UC Office of the President wasn't clicking its heels in glee.
"It's going to happen," Dynes said of the med school. "Stay close to it." I thanked him, reminded him he could put an extra finger of the scales to tip the plan in the Valley's favor.
Two dinners were occurring simultaneously -- UC Merced and UCLA. Each drew roughly the same number of attendees -- 60 to 70 people. I don't know if Dynes went to the Bruins bash, but he sure wasn't at the Golden Bobcats dinner -- UC executive vice president Bruce Darling provided the official remarks. But there were plenty of politicians and staffers in attendance. including Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (of course, his son is vice chancellor for university relations in Merced). UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang had to have been pleased.
And somebody ought to be tracking the numbers of photos taken and displayed by Larry Salinas, exec director of government relations for UC Merced. Larry, you could retire on your royalties!