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Going Vertical at First UC Campus in Four Decades

October 7, 2003

MERCED, CA — With a complex and extensive infrastructure in place, vertical construction of the University of California, Merced campus is due to begin shortly after a kick-off event on Tuesday, October 7, with the first building groundbreaking - that of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library.

Construction crews and equipment at the campus job-site will continue buzzing in the background as a group of UC Merced supporters and elected officials join to celebrate the symbolic groundbreaking at the site of the library building pad.

“This is a gratifying day for all UC Merced supporters from throughout the San Joaquin Valley,” said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “After 15 years of an enormous Valley-wide effort to bring the University of California to the region, students and their families are finally seeing visual proof of the opportunity to obtain a world-class education without leaving home.”

Kolligian, as chair of the UC Board of Regents, championed the cause for the first University of California campus in the San Joaquin Valley. In 1988 the Regents approved the creation of a Valley-based UC campus to enhance access to higher education for the traditionally underserved region. In addition, UC Merced will serve the state's growing enrollment to free up space elsewhere in the higher education system as other UC campuses are dealing with enrollment limitations.

The $280 million in capital projects, the bulk of which was secured through lease revenue bonds funding in 2001-02, provides financial support for the first phase of construction, including site preparation, infrastructure, and four buildings - including the Kolligian Library.

Asked to serve as the first two members of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, Leo and Dottie Kolligian in turn persuaded other leaders throughout the San Joaquin Valley to join this key advisory board of the UC Merced campus.

“Leo Kolligian has earned the reputation as the 'father' of the UC Merced campus for his steadfast support of the campus and his unrelenting commitment to ensure that it be located in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Tomlinson-Keasey. “His dedicated and devoted wife, Dottie, was his partner in their advocacy for the new campus and was named UC Merced Trustee of the Year in December 2000. It is thus fitting that one of our first buildings at UC Merced honor their legacy.”

UC Merced is planning to accept a limited number of graduate students in fall 2004, emulating UC San Diego, which in the 1960s started with graduate students only. Most of these students are doctoral candidates who will transfer as their faculty mentors join the UC Merced founding faculty. Faculty recruitment will continue this year toward the hiring of additional faculty in 2004-05 and 2005-06. Sixty full-time faculty members must be on board by fall 2005 to serve the initial student population.

UC Merced, the 10th campus of the UC system and the first major research university to be built in the United States during the 21st century, is scheduled to open in fall 2005 with 1,000 students, ultimately growing to a student population of 25,000. The university has a special mission to serve the educational needs of San Joaquin Valley residents, and is already serving area students through a concurrent admissions program at three Valley community colleges and by offering UC summer session courses in Fresno, Bakersfield and Atwater. UC Merced currently employs approximately 165 educators and professionals who are working on developing the physical and academic infrastructure of the campus.