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A Gift From The Heart for UC Merced's Auditorium

August 15, 2002

Merced, CA — A $1 million donation from a premier Merced cardiologist is being celebrated by the University of California, Merced for the enhancement of its Auditorium, located in the Classroom and Office Building, one of the first three academic buildings to be constructed on campus.

Dr. Hanimireddy Lakireddy, his wife, Vijaya, and their sons, Vikram and Sidhardha, presented the gift to UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey at a private dinner at the Chancellor's Residence on Friday evening, 8/9/02. Dr. Lakireddy, who is originally from India, spoke with much sentiment about his motivation in offering such a generous gift to the University and his support of higher education.

“When I attended school as a young boy in India, we had no electricity, none of today's modern day conveniences. Yet thanks to my schooling and to higher education, I was able to make something of myself,” he said. “Therefore, I now feel an obligation to show my gratitude for the opportunities that education has afforded me by giving back to this educational organization and giving back to my community.”

Until the announcement of the gift, the Auditorium was originally slated to act as a “spoken word” venue, a place where basic lectures would be hosted.

“The generosity of the Lakireddy family gift will now allow for a more performance-based venue that ultimately will provide a wider variety of cultural and artistic events that can be offered in the early years of the campus,” explained Tomlinson-Keasey. “This is a fantastic example of a donation directly benefiting both the students and the community. We couldn't be more pleased.”

The gift will enhance the Auditorium's facilities with a larger stage, high quality acoustical features and a fly-grid system for state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. Other additions will include back-of-house areas such as a general purpose room for performers and storage space for musical instruments and other props required for performing arts events.

“My family offers this gift to UC Merced and its community with the hope of deepening international understanding,” said Lakireddy. “Perhaps through the knowledge created and gained in this venue, we will all take one step further toward world peace.”

The University plans to host a variety of performances at the Auditorium including recitals, concerts, and lectures that students, staff and the community can enjoy.

UC Merced, the first American research university to be built in the 21st century, currently employs approximately 100 educators and professionals and will eventually grow to 25,000 students by build-out in 2030. In addition to its main location, the Merced campus will utilize digital technology to create an educational network that serves students and communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The University currently operates educational centers in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced. Another center is planned for Modesto.