Courtesy of LA Times

New Chancellor Appointed to CA Community Colleges
Brice W. Harris was recently named chancellor of the California Community College system, the nation’s largest community college system. With over 112 different campuses, Harris will be taking over the leading position of Interim Chancellor Erik Skinner.

Severe budget cuts from the state have proven injurious to higher education, due to the inability to support academic programs and administrative services. Consequently, these factors led to a decreasing rate in enrollment and therefore making college a less viable option for thousands of applicants. Despite these dire circumstances, Harris indicates that the “best days are still ahead of us.”

Sacramento City College student Shaine Johnson described the newly-appointed Chancellor as a “listener” who expresses interest and sincerity towards the concerns of others.

Harris’s goals include improving and expediting student transfer rates to four-year universities, while informing lawmakers that budget cuts will diminish class sizes, faculty and student services in California’s community colleges. Prior to being named the newly-appointed chancellor, Harris was the head of the Rios Community College District in Sacramento.

Harris is expected assume his position as chancellor on Nov. 6 with an annual salary of $189,500.

Art Professor Awarded Prestigious Grant
A UCR faculty member has received a $500,000 fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. Award recipient and professor of art emeritus Uta Barth specializes in visual perception, depth of field and framing in photographs. Applicants who receive the fellowship demonstrate innovative creative work in their field, with the potential to carry on new endeavors in the future.

Barth says the grant will allow her to dedicate more time on her designs, but she remains determined to continue teaching as a part-time faculty member. In addition, she stated that “the fellowship will also allow me to digitally archive negatives from all previous work. This way I can make stable prints of images originally created…and thereby preserve works that are on the verge of fading.”

Barth is an internationally acclaimed artist who has received many other fellowships, including the Guggenheim and USA Broad Foundation fellowships. Some of Barth’s notable works include drawing with light by manipulating curtains in her home and creating curves through the use of a silver and wide ribbon on a large scale sequence.

A selection of her works is exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Climate Change Triggers Animal Diversity
Recent discoveries made by UCR geochemists and a team of international scientists present a direct connection between climate changes and rises in oxygen level, prompting early animal evolution. Led by researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the results of these findings was published in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal, Nature.

Previously, there were many claims of rising atmospheric levels in relations to early animal diversity, yet were highly speculative. In South China, fossil records show that an increase in animals and algae in the ocean points to a rise in oxygen levels. Discovered 365 million years ago, the ancient rocks in Southern China can be compared to modern-day ocean rocks, due to similar organic carbon found in the ocean sediments.

“This work provides the first real evidence for a long speculated change in oxygen levels in the aftermath of the most severe climatic event in Earth’s history—one of the so-called “Snowball Earth” glaciations,” stated UCR biogeochemistry professor Timothy Lyon.