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New Banners Promote University Pride, Town-Gown Relations

June 9, 2011

UC Merced aims to further connect the campus and community with bold graphics adorning city light poles

Quick Facts
  • UC Merced has collaborated with the city to place 30 distinctive banners on light poles along select city streets to help promote town-gown relations.
  • The banners will highlight the solidarity between the city of Merced and the university.

MERCED, Calif. — In collaboration with the city of Merced, the University of California, Merced, will have colorful banners installed on light poles downtown and along key corridors June 10 to help promote the burgeoning relationships and programs that strengthen the ties between community and the university.

“The banners are an outward symbol of the growing and evolving connection between the university and the city,” said Chancellor Steve Kang, who ends his tenure June 30 to return to teaching and research. “The university remains committed to nurturing the strong relationship we have developed with Merced's warmhearted community.”

The city and the university have a long history of cooperation focused on their shared mutual interests in a strong and vibrant community.

UC Merced has placed 30 banners — each nearly 3 feet wide and 8 feet tall — on light poles downtown and along key corridors of Merced.

“We have always believed in a strong town-gown relationship between the city of Merced and the University of California, Merced,” said Merced Mayor William Spriggs. “The banners are symbolic of the ongoing relationship that continues to grow and thrive as the city and the university fuse into a community.”

While the city's wayfinder signs —installed in 2008 — help facilitate navigation for visitors, the objective of UC Merced's banners is to build awareness of the university among passersby (both tourists and area residents) and build a sense of pride for students, faculty, staff and community members.

For the university, the banners are an opportunity to raise the profile of the institution and further integrate the university into the city.

“The campus and community are intertwined — culturally, socially and economically,” Kang said. “The banners provide the university with an excellent way to welcome visitors to town and celebrate the town's connection to the university.”

The banners, which are nearly 3 feet wide and 8 feet tall, bear the University of California seal and the words “University of California, Merced” and are consistent with the campus' branding.

UC Merced students, faculty and staff have become a major part of the surrounding community over the past several years. Below are some of the coordinated programs and projects that further signify the burgeoning town-gown relationship.

  • The campus recently received a grant from The California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiativein Merced County, with the objective to help bring research that offers insight into local challenges and to create more ways for UC Merced's students, faculty and staff to be engaged with community agencies.
  • UC Merced students have partnered with local nonprofit organizations that need engineering expertise through the Engineering Projects in Community Service(EPICS) academic program. One EPICS team is developing supplementary K-12 science curricula in collaboration with the Merced County Office of Education.
  • UC Merced's Center of Excellence on Health Disparitiesin Rural and Underserved Populations was established with a grantto reduce the profound disparity in health status seen in racial and ethnic minorities the San Joaquin Valley and the country.
  • Professors Simón Wefferand Robin DeLuganare conducting a 10-year study, in partnership with others, into quality-of-life issues in the San Joaquin Valley, looking at how people perceive their communities when it comes to such topics as the economy, poverty, unemployment, social services, homeownership, family, education and local government.
  • Last semester, UC Merced students showed their passion for serving the community by tutoring a group of Merced High School studentsto help them pass the California exit exam. The two student initiators were also among the six students from UC Merced who participated last year in Harvard's inaugural Latino Leadership Initiative in Cambridge, Mass., which requires the students to make a difference in their community.

The university funded the banner production, installation and hardware with discretionary funds from the Chancellor's Office; no state funds were used.


Brenda Ortiz