MERCED, CA — Construction of the first University of California campus in the San Joaquin Valley continues at a swift pace and will be celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony for the Classroom Building. The event will be held at the UC Merced campus job site on Friday, November 14, 2003 at 11:00 a.m.
“The Classroom Building will be filled daily with the voices of several generations of students and faculty,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jane Lawrence. “It will be where discoveries are made, new ideas are generated and careers are chosen.”
The gift of Dr. Hanimireddy Lakireddy, a Merced-based cardiologist, will be the focus of the ceremony. His gift will enhance the building's auditorium as a venue for cultural and artistic events. The aptly named Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium will include a stage, high quality acoustical features and a fly-grid system for state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment.
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 campus construction, including site preparation, infrastructure, and four buildings - including the Classroom Building.
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.