California Assembly Budget Committee Supports Funding For UC Merced

Sacramento, CA — The California State Assembly Subcommittee on Education Finance yesterday [Wednesday, April 25, 2001] unanimously approved $162.4 million in funds for UC Merced in the proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The action came after testimony to the committee by UC Merced Vice Chancellor Lindsay Desrochers, who indicated the importance of UC Merced in providing access to UC-eligible students and providing an economic engine for growth in the San Joaquin Valley.

In her testimony, Desrochers pointed out that, because of demographic trends, the UC system will be required to absorb an additional 60,000 students this decade, and UC Merced - which will ultimately enroll 25,000 students - has a critical role in helping the University achieve its mission. In addition, noted Desrochers, the UC system has played an important role in providing research and an educated workforce that has allowed for California to be a model for social and economic progress. She also testified that UC Merced would provide an economic engine for the San Joaquin Valley.

The budget action was taken by the assembly's subcommittee on education finance, which is chaired by Joseph Simitian [D-Palo Alto]. Other members on the committee are: Dennis Cardoza [D-Merced], Lynn Daucher [R-Brea], Jerome Horton [D-Inglewood], and Bill Leonard [R-San Bernardino]. Also appearing before the committee in support of the funding measure were State Senator Dick Monteith [R-Modesto] and State Senator Jim Costa [D-Fresno].

The $162.4 million in funds are earmarked for construction of initial infrastructure and the first three buildings of UC Merced [$160.4 million] plus funds for faculty recruitment efforts [$2 million].

UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, who was in meetings in Washington, D.C. at the time of the committee's action, applauded the move, saying: "We are deeply appreciative of the efforts of the committee members in approving this important funding allocation for UC Merced. In addition to commending the work of all committee members, including Chairman Simitian, I'd like to also specifically thank Assemblymember Cardoza, and Senators Monteith and Costa, who all represent the people of the San Joaquin Valley. They have time and again showed their deep support for the UC Merced project. We are looking forward to continuing our mission to serve the students of the San Joaquin Valley and beyond."

The first buildings on the UC Merced campus will be:

Library/Information Technology Center [$56.5 million]

This project will support an array of new and traditional information resources and services, computer laboratories, instructional technology support, multimedia services, and library service instructional rooms.

Science and Engineering Building [$74 million]

This structure will house two of the three initial academic divisions of the new campus: Engineering and Natural Sciences. The building will be designed to provide superior laboratories and support space for research and teaching.

Classroom and Office Building [$26.6 million]

This building will house the third initial academic division: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts. The structure will provide classroom and lecture hall space required for all of the initial divisions, plus administrative space.

UC Merced currently employs almost 65 educators and professionals. The University's main campus in Merced is currently being planned, and is expected to open in fall 2004 to serve 1,000 students. The campus will grow over coming decades to serve 25,000 students. UC Merced contributes to educational access through the entire San Joaquin region via special educational and outreach centers in Fresno and Bakersfield. A new UC Merced center will open in Modesto later this year.

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