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We are honored to have a fantastic committee who span across campus and provide multiple perspectives. Our diverse team provides the opportunity to have deep, meaningful conversations about creating a welcoming and affirming environment. It also assists with developing robust ways of addressing campus climate issues. We have undergraduate, graduate students, faculty and staff. We are honored and privileged to have the unique individuals on our committee!


De Acker
she/ her/ theirs Why?
Director of Campus Climate - Office of Campus Climate


Deidre (De) Acker has been a UC employee for more than 30 years, working first at UC Santa Barbara for more than 17 years and then moving to UC Merced in 2007. I'm very interested in creating and supporting inclusive environments for our increasingly diverse UC population."

Prior to serving in the Office of Campus Climate at UC Merced they were the founding Campus Ombuds and prior to that served as the assistant dean for the School of Natural Sciences.  She helped to start the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Queer Issues (CACQI), served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (CACSW), chaired and co-chaired the Council on Climate and Inclusion (CCCI) and served as President and Past-President of Staff Assembly and as the Staff Advisor to the Regents from 2014-2016.  She also serves as a Queer Ally and diversity awareness trainer.

Acker held a variety of positions at UC Santa Barbara, including director of the UCSB Women’s Center for 12 years. She was one of the founding members of the campus' mediation program, served as co-president of the Professional Women’s Association, co-chair of the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Women and managed the final stages of the creation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender student resource center.  Acker is an alum of UC Santa Barbara.


Veronica Adrover
Photographer, Multimedia Coordinator
Office of External Relations

Veronica Adrover is a founding staff member at UC Merced and has been an employee for 15 years.

She began her time at UC Merced as an administrative assistant in the Office of Communications.  Veronica completed an Associate of Science degree in photography from City College of San Francisco, and even though her initial job description at UC Merced did not include photography, she was able to use her photography skills to illustrate web stories and publications in the early days of the campus. After nine years in that position with increasing photographic responsibilities, she transitioned to a new position as photographer/multimedia coordinator and continues in that position today. She serves to promote UC Merced through her photography which is used in websites, publications, and social media.

Veronica values being able to contribute to the growth of UC Merced, especially in helping to create a place where diversity and community are held in high regard.


Brandon Batzloff, Co-Chair
Ph.D. Candidate, Cognitive and Information Sciences
President, Graduate Student Association
Graduate Student

Brandon is a doctoral candidate in the Cognitive and Information Sciences program. His research applies cognitive science to large scale social issues, such as policy and public engagement with social, environmental, and economic justice issues associated with climate disruption. A primary goal of his research is to develop methods for utilizing scientific research as a tool that can integrate the needs of the community into the priorities of academic research, thereby allowing the concerns of marginalized communities to have greater representation at state and national levels. He started the Queer Action Committee (QuAC), the first organization for queer (LGBT+) graduate students and is President of the Graduate Student Association. Feel free to contact Brandon about issues you feel are important.

Wei-Chun Chin
Self-expression and self-identification are important parts of my professional and personal values. One way to practice these values is to share personal gender pronouns. My name is Wei-Chun and I use he, him, his and they, them, their pronouns.
Professor, Bioengineering

Prof. Wei-Chun Chin received his Ph.D. degree from the Bioengineering Department at University of Washington (Seattle) and postdoctoral training in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. Then he took a faculty position at Florida State University. In 2006, Wei-Chun was recruited to UC Merced as a founding faculty for the Bioengineering Program. He served as Bioengineering undergraduate chair from 2014 to 2017. In 2016, Wei-Chun was awarded Building Community Award from UC Merced Lambda Alliance for his contribution for LGBTQ community in the campus. 2017-2018, he served as the Chair for UC Merced faculty Senate Committee for Diversity and Equity (D&E). With the networking and opportunities provided by CACQI, Prof. Chin expects to contribute to build a more positive, welcoming environment for the LGBTQ community.


Hanna Gunn, Co-Chair
Assistant Professor, Department of Cognitive Science
Samantha (Sam) Ocena, Co-Chair
Assistant Director, Merritt Writing Program


Samantha Tetangco Ocena (she/her/hers) is a Filipino-American writer and teacher.  She received her MFA from the University of New Mexico and is currently Associate Director of the Writing Program at the University of California Merced.  Tetangco’s short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared and are forthcoming in dozens of literary magazines and anthologies, most notably The Sun, Zone 3, Arc Poetry, Puerto del Sol, Phoebe, Foglifter, and others.

Past relevant work includes three years as President and Social Media Coordinator for the LGBTQ Writer’s Caucus, an international group that functions as a part of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in order to ensure and advocate for representation of LGBTQ writers, guest editor for As/Us Magazine’s Queer issue, and contest judge and consultant for the Martha’s Vineyard Fellowships (The Voices of Color Fellowship & The Queer Writer’s Fellowship).

Sam grew up here in Merced and is excited to be a co-chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Queer Initiatives because she wants LGBTQ people who come to UC Merced to feel like they can also call this place home.


Ariell Wright
Undergraduate Student -  Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Major
Campus Affiliations: LGBTQ+ Initiatives Intern & former Lambda Alliance Vice President


Ariell served two terms as Vice President of Lambda Alliance at UC Merced, the only LGBTQ+ student led organization on campus. Graduating class of 2020, Ariell is a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies major with a minor in Political Science. They hope to work with non profits geared towards helping the queer and trans* community after graduating. Their passions are advocacy, education, and outreach and feel grateful to have the opportunities they have been provided on campus to serve their community.