MERCED — Local donors have now contributed nearly $1 million to support the expansion of the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center at UC Merced. A new phase of the fund drive, the Bleacher Seat Campaign, aims to raise additional dollars through donations from community members. Donations will be recognized on a plaque located near the bleacher seats in the center's NCAA-sized basketball court. Already, community members have contributed about $45,000 to the bleacher seat effort - approximately 10 percent of the goal for this phase of the campaign.
“Since the entire community will someday enjoy basketball games, concerts and other exciting events from the gym's bleacher seats, we decided that was the best place to focus the final phase of this very successful drive,” said Mike Campbell, associate vice chancellor for university relations at UC Merced. “The bleacher seat campaign is designed to allow members of the community to contribute toward a lasting legacy at UC Merced.”
An initial gift of $2 million from the Joseph Edward Gallo family in 2002, along with borrowed funds, allowed the university to begin planning for the original $10-million Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center. The center has always been planned as an integral part of UC Merced, furthering the university's goal of promoting balanced well-being for students.
However, additional funds were needed to create a center that would be large and well-equipped enough to serve student needs as the campus grows, as well as to host enjoyable community events like NCAA basketball, concerts, graduation ceremonies and more. Sandee Boese, Mike Gallo, Billie Razzari, Ken Robbins, Mike Salvadori and Ralph Temple came together with UC Merced administrators in Fall 2004 to begin the Gymnasium Expansion Campaign, aiming for $1.36 million in funds from local individuals, families and businesses.
Just a few months later, generous gifts from community-minded individuals such as Greg and Cathie Hostetler, Bob and Evie Ayers, Mike Salvadori, Patty Prine, Carol Schrole, Don and Betty Stewart, and Ben Wells have brought the Gymnasium Expansion Campaign appreciably close to its goal. The campaign will now close with a Bleacher Seat Campaign portion to raise the final funds needed to complete the facility.
Donors can be recognized on a plaque next to the seats for contributions starting at $1000. The bleachers will overlook the Greg and Cathie Hostetler Court, the NCAA-sized court being funded by a $500,000 gift from the Hostetlers that kicked off the Gymnasium Expansion Campaign in the fall of 2004.
Parties interested in contributing to the Bleacher Seat Campaign should contact one of the campaign committee members mentioned above, or contact UC Merced's Mike Campbell at (209) 724-4402.
UC Merced, the 10th campus of the University of California system and the first major research university to be built in the United States during the 21st century, will open in fall 2005 with 1,000 students, ultimately growing to a student population of 25,000. A select group of graduate students began work at UC Merced in August 2004. The university has a special mission to serve the educational needs of San Joaquin Valley residents, and is already serving area students through partnerships with community colleges, outreach programs and UC summer session courses offered in Fresno, Bakersfield and Atwater. UC Merced currently employs more than 300 educators and other professionals who are working to develop the physical and academic infrastructure of the campus.