MERCED, CA. — California State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday afternoon (July 31, 2004) signed a budget package for 2004-05 that includes $20 million in startup funds for the University of California, Merced. The $20 million allocation will allow the 10th campus of the University of California to open to 1,000 students in fall 2005.
“My strong support to provide funding for the new UC campus underscores my belief that we should continue working to expand the dream of college and not leave the Central Valley out of the dream,” said Governor Schwarzenegger, referring to his State of the State address given in January. “I believe UC Merced is essential for expanding higher education opportunities in the Central Valley and for providing an educational outlet for students throughout the state.”
The $20 million allocation will help fund faculty hiring, enrollment and student support services, library materials and operational expenses associated with serving 1,000 students next year.
“We are grateful for Governor Schwarzenegger's steadfast support. His commitment ensures that students in the rapidly growing Central Valley will have expanded access to a UC education,” said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “By moving forward with UC Merced, the governor and the legislature have also recognized that the campus is becoming a powerful economic engine within the region. As the campus grows, we promise a good return on their investment.”
“As a working, single mom, I would not have had the option of moving somewhere else to pursue a UC education,” said Marsha Bond, 29, of Ceres, who is currently studying geography at Modesto Junior College. “I am absolutely ready to get my education rolling so that I can move on to becoming a college professor.”
Bond is one of more than 40 community college students from three San Joaquin Valley campuses who are enrolled in a program that streamlines their eventual transfer to UC Merced.
Opening with a mix of undergraduate and graduate students, the campus plans to offer undergraduate academic majors that include bioengineering; biological sciences; computer science and engineering; earth systems science; environmental engineering; human biology; management; social, behavioral and cognitive sciences; and world cultures and history. Opening day graduate programs of study include environmental systems; molecular science and engineering; and quantitative and systems biology. Additional undergraduate and graduate programs are being planned with possible availability as early as 2005.
Faculty members are currently developing innovative academic programs and teaching summer courses while also attracting federal research funding for projects such as monitoring water quality in Valley-bound rivers from the Sierra Nevada and devising competitively priced solar units for residential air conditioning systems. To date, the university has been awarded more than $10 million in funding through grants and contracts with an additional $21 million pending approval.
Meanwhile, the campus site changes daily as the first buildings take shape. The $280 million capital budget, which has been funded over the past four years through a combination of bond, state and UC funds, is supporting the construction of three academic buildings, student housing and dining, a recreation center and campus site infrastructure.
In total, the State has dedicated $360 million toward the development of the UC Merced campus.