UC Merced students, alumni, leaders and supporters were in Sacramento last week to advocate for full state funding for the University of California and to promote the unique opportunities and challenges that face the rapidly growing campus.
Chancellor Dorothy Leland led the group through the first “UC Merced Day” in the capitol, a new biennial counterpoint to the traditional UC Day.
The chancellor joined with students to generate legislative support for the UC, which now educates 90,000 more students than it did in 2000, but with the same level of state funding. The UC announced April 26 that it is postponing discussion of a tuition increase in hopes that the ongoing state budget negotiations will result in more funding.
The UC’s financial pains are felt acutely at its youngest and fastest-growing campus.
“UC Merced is growing into maturity in spite of a severe recession followed by years of insufficient state investment,” Leland said. “That we are now thriving is a testament to the pioneering spirit and tireless dedication of our campus community, but we need additional support from the Legislature and the governor if we are to continue our upward trajectory into the future.”
The Merced group also included former UC Regent Fred Ruiz, who has been a strong advocate for the appointment of regents who hail from or have strong ties to the Central Valley.
The Board of Regents, appointed by the governor, has 26 seats — no current regents are from the Valley, and there are five vacancies. Ruiz, also a UC Merced Foundation Board member and longtime campus supporter, asked legislators to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to strongly consider nominees from one of the state’s most underrepresented regions.
“By appointing a UC regent from the Valley, the governor would not just check a demographic or geographic box,” Ruiz, a regent for 12 years before stepping down in 2016, wrote in the Sacramento Bee earlier this year. “He would signal that in our vast, diverse state, it is possible for the next generation of academic and economic leaders to succeed regardless of where they are from.”
Joining Leland and Ruiz were UC Merced Foundation Trustees Jack Oswald, Daryl Hatano, Kevin Dasso, Ross Gentry, Vikram Lakireddy, Monya Lane and Ralph Ochoa; as well as UC Merced alumni and students.
Campus’ Spring Open House Draws Record Attendance
More than 3,700 people visited UC Merced on April 21 during the campus’s annual Bobcat Day — a 26 percent increase over 2017 and more than any previous year.
About 1,200 admitted students and twice as many family members and other guests sampled all the campus has to offer, learning about financial aid, housing, class registration and different clubs and organizations.
Sarahy Condor Montes, a first-generation biological sciences major originally from Perú by way of Chico, was one of them.
“My first time stepping on campus, everybody was extremely welcoming,” she said. “It felt like home as soon as I saw this campus.”
Before Bobcat Day activities began on campus, alumni were up early preparing meals for the animals and cleaning out exhibits Merced’s Applegate Park Zoo. This is the second time the group has gathered for a “Bobcats Give Back” community service project. While there, the alumni stopped by to say hello to Boomer, the campus’s original, live mascot, who resides at the zoo.
Alumni aren’t the only Bobcats who give back. Community service is a tradition that starts early in a UC Merced student’s career.
More than 100 Engineering Service Learning students spent Bobcat Day sharing how they contribute to the greater area. They showcased their projects for prospective students and others.
Each semester, Engineering Service Learning undergraduate students contribute more than 7,800 hours serving the community. Team members use their combined technical skills to provide meaningful solutions tailored to their nonprofit community partner’s needs. In return, they gain professional, hands-on experience.
During Bobcat Day, visitors were able to test project prototypes, which vary from an aerospace exhibit for a traveling museum to identifying disease development in grape vines.
UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the campus’s Public Relations team. To contact the team, email PR@ucmerced.edu.