Thomas W. Peterson, 62, assistant director for engineering at the national foundation, will assume his responsibilities as provost and executive vice chancellor on Dec. 3, according to university officials.
Peterson has led the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation. The division has a budget of about $825 million and provides research, seeks to advance technology and integrates those activities with the education of new engineers, according to UC Merced.
Prior to being appointed to his position at the national foundation, Peterson was the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona. He was able to keep his faculty position at the University of Arizona during his time at the foundation.
He holds a bachelor's degree from Tufts University, a master's degree from the University of Arizona, and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. He received all three degrees in chemical engineering.
UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland wasn't available to comment on Thursday, but in a message that she sent out to the campus community, she said the university will benefit "enormously" from Peterson.
"He is an effective and seasoned leader, a successful fundraiser and a skilled collaborator whose talents will serve our campus extremely well as we move into the next major phase of our development," she wrote in her message.