Cesar Alvarado-Gil joins UC Merced as chief campus counsel, bringing his broad background in the law, deep affinity for education and firm ties to Merced.
"Higher education is critical for everyone - and particularly for those like me, who come from lower-income, socially disadvantaged backgrounds," Alvarado-Gill said shortly after being appointed by Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz. "Higher education is often the only gateway to success. To be part of that is very important to me."
"Cesar's legal experience is significant and built on an extraordinary life of accomplishment. I am confident he will provide skilled guidance and empathetic service to our students, our faculty and our entire campus," said Muñoz.
Emigrating from war-torn El Salvador as a child, Alvarado-Gil settled with his family in Los Angeles. He graduated from UC Berkeley and UCLA School of Law, working for several private firms in the Bay Area from 1997 to 2019.
He served as general counsel for the Mount Diablo Unified School District, where he oversees the legal, workers' compensation and risk management departments for 55 campuses.
"I'm leaving behind a great legacy where I am," he said, "and I'm excited to move on to higher education, where I think I can have an even bigger impact on the community."
Along the way, he taught U.S. jurisprudence and led an internship program for several years at UC Berkeley School of Law.
"I loved teaching law," said Alvarado-Gil. "There were those great moments when you saw that sparkle in the students' eyes when, all of a sudden, it makes sense. There's that moment in every educator's life when you see students blossom. I'm looking forward to being back in that kind of environment."
As UC Merced campus' chief counsel, starting Feb. 1, Alvarado-Gil will be a dual report to the University of California's systemwide General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs Charles Robinson, and serve as a member of UC Legal's leadership team.
"I look forward to working with Cesar," Robinson said. "His fresh perspective and expertise will undoubtedly strengthen our legal team."
Alvarado-Gil succeeds Stella Ngai, who has served as chief campus counsel since 2021. Ngai is returning to the UC Office of the General Counsel, where she previously worked for 11 years.
Joining the Merced campus is personal to him, said Alvarado-Gil. The blended family of six children he has built with his wife, state Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil - whose district includes parts of Merced, Mariposa, Madera and Stanislaus counties - is happy to be "building our roots in the Central Valley."
"I'm a product of the UC system and my kids are all UC - we bleed blue and gold at my house," he joked. His oldest daughter graduated from UC Riverside, a son is at Davis and a third will be joining him at UC Merced in fall 2024.
"UC Merced particularly is important - located in the Central Valley, which has been, on the whole, underrepresented and underserved - because it is leading the charge to bring world-class education to the Valley," he said. "It's exciting."