Between record enrollment and research expenditures, a massive economic impact on the San Joaquin Valley, new buildings and a visit from the new UC president, the University of California, Merced, has had a big year.
Newly appointed University of California President Janet Napolitano chose UC Merced for her first campus visit – in her first week on the job – saying the youngest UC campus is important to the UC system, but also to the Central Valley and the state.
Napolitano didn’t exaggerate when she spoke of UC Merced’s role in serving the state and nation. By the end of this year, the campus will have pumped $1 billion into the region’s economy since operations began. Between wages and benefits, construction contracts and goods and services purchased, the campus has significantly contributed to the area’s economic growth.
Statewide, UC Merced’s total economic contribution now exceeds $1.7 billion.
Part of that money comes from what was, this year, record research expenditures of $17.3 million. UC Merced’s stellar researchers spent 9 percent more this year than last year, and have spent $103.5 million in the Valley since 2003. That money primarily comes from grants and private donations, and is used to purchase equipment, supplies and services and as aid to graduate students who conduct much of the research under faculty direction.
Some of the groundbreaking work being done at UC Merced includes:
The research UC Merced is rapidly becoming known for is one reason this year also saw a huge jump in enrollment. This year’s 6,195 students — a 7 percent increase over last year — came from a record application pool of more than 18,000.
Like many campuses, UC Merced faces a space crunch. To help accommodate growth, the campus added new housing – the new five-story residence hall, called Half Dome, which allows 2,100 students to live on campus, an increase of 30 percent.
And the UC Board of Regents approved the 2020 Plan, a campus growth design that calls for higher density buildings on the current campus footprint, to optimize space so the campus can accommodate 10,000 students by the year 2020.
Every single campus building will continue to be constructed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s exacting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design criteria so as to earn LEED certification.
This year, the campus received its 11th such certification with platinum LEED status conferred on the new Social Sciences and Management Building. Half Dome student housing, the under-construction Student Services and Science and Engineering 2 buildings and the second Classroom and Academic Office Building, which is in design, are all also expected to achieve LEED platinum status.