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University of California Regents Committees approve UC Merced Items

January 16, 2002

MERCED, CA— In a significant milestone for
the development of the UC Merced campus, two committees of the
University of California Regents today voted to approve several key
planning and development items that will keep development on track
for the opening of the campus in fall 2004.

“The actions taken today will enhance educational access and
economic opportunity for the San Joaquin Valley, provide for
preservation of more than 34 square miles of natural habitat in
eastern Merced County, and create a model for sustainable growth in
the region,” said California Governor Gray Davis, who is an ex
officio Regent. “This is a wonderful day for California, and
especially for the citizens of the San Joaquin region.”

The Regents committees recommended approval of the Long Range
Development Plan (LRDP) for the new UC Merced and certification of
the campus environmental impact report (EIR). The two committees
involved in the action — the Committee on Grounds and
Buildings and the Committee on Finance — recommended that the
full Board of Regents approve the measures at its meeting tomorrow.

“This has been a milestone day for the citizens of California
and the educational community,” said Regent Joanne C. Kozberg,
former chair of the Board’s Special Committee on UC Merced. “The UC
Regents have long recognized the need for a greater presence by the
University in the San Joaquin Valley, which is the largest
population center in the state not currently served by a UC campus.”

Added UC President Richard C. Atkinson: “This is a significant
moment for the University, as we have not built a new campus since
the early 1960s. Because of an expected demographic upsurge, the
University of California will need to absorb an additional 60,000
students this decade. UC Merced will play a critical role in
providing continuing access to the University for these students.”

Long Range Development Plan

The LRDP guides the physical development of the campus from the
2002 groundbreaking to full build-out sometime after 2030. It
articulates the primary vision and underlying ideas framing the
siting, layout, and character of the new campus.

Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, Chancellor of UC Merced, said, “The
Regents’ enthusiastic approval of the LRDP and our vision for
campus development is very encouraging. We now look forward to
building the nation’s first major research university of the 21st century.”

Environmental Impact Report

The environmental impacts of the proposed campus construction
and development are assessed in the final EIR, published earlier
this month. The 2000-page document describes the conservation and
mitigation program that will soon result in the preservation of
more than 22,000 acres [or 34.4 square miles] of vernal pool
habitat in eastern Merced County with thousands of additional acres
slated to be preserved in coming years through a conservation
easement fund created by the Governor and the State Legislature in 1999.

Environmental groups and land preservation groups, including The
Nature Conservancy, Audubon California, and the American Farmland
Trust, hailed the action.

Graham Chisholm, California Executive Director of The Nature
Conservancy, said, “The vernal pool habitat in the state has been
under pressure from population growth and other factors for
decades. To assist in preserving our natural heritage, The Nature
Conservancy has been involved in acquiring conservation easements
in Merced County since the 1980s. The Nature Conservancy supports
the new conservation efforts taking place in eastern Merced County
as part of the University of California, Merced campus.”

Dan Taylor, State Director of Audubon California added: “We are
impressed with what the University has done over the last year to
better protect important habitat areas. We look forward to working
with UC Merced to resolve remaining issues and to get the campus
underway. Clearly, the youth and the environment of the Central
Valley stand to be the big winners.”

John McCaull, California Regional Director of the American
Farmland Trust added: “The agricultural community of Merced County
welcomes the UC to the neighborhood. We are looking to the UC to
help Merced County craft a plan for community development that
protects prime agricultural land while allowing appropriate urban
growth in the vicinity of the campus and the City of Merced.”

Added Kathleen Crookham, member of the Merced County Board of
Supervisors. “The University is part of a forward-looking
initiative that carefully integrates the campus within the County
of Merced’s general plan. We’re all committed to sustainable growth
through the minimization of sprawl. I think the campus strikes an
appropriate balance between the need to preserve our local natural
resources while providing educational access for the children of
the region.”

Approval of Campus Infrastructure Capital Project

The Regents committee also recommended approval of
infrastructure plans for the first phase of the development,
including the Library & Technology building, Classroom
building, and Science & Engineering building. The
infrastructure will provide the necessary link to county and city
services such as water, electricity and waste treatment.

Student Housing and Dining Commons

Lastly, the Regents committees recommended the approval of funds
to build the Garden Suites (student apartment suites) and the
Lakeview Dining facility. The Garden Suites will consist of
approximately 130 apartment suites, also called residence halls
that are a combination of single, double, and triple rooms, a
dining/living area, efficiency kitchens, and compartmentalized
bathroom(s). Consistent with the UC Merced food services plan, a
centralized Lakeview Dining facility of approximately 11,000
assignable square feet will serve the meal needs of on-campus
residents and commuting students, faculty and staff.

UC Merced is the 10th campus of the University of California
system. In partnership with the people of the San Joaquin Valley
and of California, UC Merced will create a multi-cultural community
of scholars and students that benefits from unique new methods of
leveraging technology to create and share knowledge.

The university will serve students in three ways that complement
the changing needs of today’s society: 1) a residential campus
serving 25,000 students when complete; 2) special educational
centers throughout the San Joaquin Valley; and 3) cooperative
agreements with the California Community College system.