Great Valley Center and UC Merced Announce Strategic Partnership

Effort aims to leverage strengths of both institutions to improve the Central Valley

The Great Valley Center and the University of California, Merced announced a partnership on Nov. 17, 2005 that combines the networks and connections of one of the Central Valley's leading regional organizations with the world-class research capacity and intellectual resources of the state's newest University of California campus.

"This partnership is a natural extension of the Great Valley Center's ongoing commitment to ensure a sustainable future for California's Great Central Valley from Redding to Bakersfield," said Carol Whiteside, President of the Modesto-based Great Valley Center. "The Great Valley Center's ongoing work will be energized by collaborative opportunities with top scholars throughout the university."

As the partnership evolves, the nonprofit Great Valley Center will continue to provide regionally focused data and information, facilitate leadership development programs for elected officials and teenagers, and assist in the coordination of regional projects on issues such as Highway 99 and the recently formed California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. The Great Valley Center's network of community leaders, nonprofit organizations and businesses will partner with UC Merced faculty to take advantage of the University's research. The evolution of the Great Valley Center will include a greater and more in-depth focus on academic research that applies to the critical needs facing the Central Valley.

UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, who has guided development of the new campus since 1999, stated that the partnership builds on the strengths of both institutions. "UC Merced shares many of the same hopes and aspirations for the Central Valley as the Great Valley Center. By working together to improve the region's economy and educational attainment, we hope to help the people of California's fastest-growing region make positive, long-term public policy choices. Our faculty will use the expanded research mission of the Center as an opportunity to involve talented and motivated students in solving the most important problems facing our community."

Currently accepting applications for undergraduate and graduate student admission in Fall 2006, UC Merced is already expanding access to higher education for students throughout California. The first new UC campus to open in 40 years, UC Merced is bringing the University of California's historic commitment to excellence in teaching, research and public service to the San Joaquin Valley.

The Great Valley Center is a nonprofit organization that supports organizations and activities that promote the economic, social and environmental well-being of California's Central Valley. Since its founding in 1997, more than 600 elected officials, young people and community leaders have participated in the Great Valley Center's leadership and mentorship programs and more than 10,000 have attended its regional conferences and forums.

The Center will continue to raise funds to support its work. The James Irvine Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation have pledged significant transitional support as the Great Valley Center begins working with the University.

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