BAKERSFIELD — Student science displays, musical performances, art exhibits and facility tours will highlight the grand opening celebration of a new facility that includes the University of California, Merced, Bakersfield Center on Wednesday, December 12, 2001.
Festivities at the new downtown building, located at 2000 K Street, include an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. and the grand opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m., with musical performances by local students and teachers throughout. Hosting the celebration are several partners in the facility: UC Merced, the UC Santa Barbara Early Academic Outreach Department, the Arts Council of Kern and Bakersfields Downtown Business Association. Refreshments will be served.
The open house will offer an opportunity to view visual art exhibits sponsored by the Arts Council of Kern, survey science and art projects of students from UCs local partner high schools, explore the building and meet program staff. Kicking off the evening reception, UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey will present opening remarks.
UC Merced is pleased to be a leader is this collaborative effort to extend educational programs and other valuable resources to the people of Kern County, said Chancellor Tomlinson-Keasey. As UC Merceds distributed educational and outreach center for the south San Joaquin Valley, the Bakersfield center will play an important role in improving educational access to the University and will provide an integral link to the main UC Merced campus.
Established in 2000, the UC Merced Center in Bakersfield was designed to meet the educational needs of the region through provision of such services as academic programs, K-14 school partnerships, professional development, public service, research and student outreach. Since moving to its new University Square location in September 2001, the center also offers flexible classroom space for groups of up to 100 and state-of-the-art technology to deliver educational programming. Videoconferencing equipment permitting students to connect with UC faculty and researchers around the state and fully equipped computer labs for online courses and professional development activities are among the amenities.
Our primary goals are to provide one centralized location for University of California programs serving the greater Bakersfield area, to improve UC outreach and partnerships at all educational levels, and to establish new academic programs that help prepare students elementary school through community college - for the opening of UC Merced in 2004, said Lori Black, regional program coordinator for UC Merced. Two wonderful examples are the interactive ChemMystery exhibit that engages younger students with science and UC Merced Summer Sessions for older students, who can take popular general education courses for UC credit at a location close to home.
On loan from the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, ChemMystery guides visitors step-by-step through the scientific process of investigating and solving a crime. The exhibit is on display at Bakersfields Buena Vista Museum of Natural History.
Open to current and newly admitted UC students, five courses were offered in Bakersfield during UC Merceds Summer Sessions in 2001. Information about courses scheduled for the summer of 2002 will be available soon.
Also located in the new Bakersfield facility are outreach counselors from the UC Merced Office of Relations with Schools and UC Santa Barbaras Early Academic Outreach program, which has operated in Kern County for 10 years and serves about 10,000 students each year. The counselors provide junior high and high school students with admissions information, academic advising and academic preparation to increase the percentage of area students eligible for UC admissions.
The Arts Council of Kern is a coordinating agency for the arts, which works to promote, strengthen and enhance the arts in the communities of Kern County by creating partnerships with arts organizations, artists educators, government, businesses, citizens and the media. The Arts Council encourages, promotes and enhances the study, performance and experience of the arts for all citizens by increasing public awareness of the value of the multifaceted and multicultural aspects of the arts.
Dedicated to the promotion of business and economic development in downtown Bakersfield, the Downtown Business Association is another partner in the building. With networking as its primary goal, the organization helps exchange information pertinent to business districts and formulate solutions to mutually shared problems.
UC Merced currently employs approximately 85 educators and professionals. The University's main campus in Merced is being planned, and is expected to open in fall 2004 to serve 1,000 students. The campus will grow over coming decades to serve 25,000 students. In addition to the center in Bakersfield, UC Merced contributes to educational access throughout the entire San Joaquin region via a special educational and outreach center in Fresno and the Tri-College Center in Merced. An additional center is planned for Modesto.
For additional information about the UC Merced, Bakersfield Center and the Dec. 12 grand opening celebration, please contact the Office of Academic Programs, at (661) 861-7941. Please visit www.ucmerced.edu  to learn more about the UC Merced campus and www.ucinthevalley.org  to locate information about University of California programs and services in the San Joaquin Valley.
NOTE TO REPORTERS: UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey will be available for interviews at 4 p.m. on December 12 in the UC Merced, Bakersfield Center.