A gift of nearly 40 acres of land helped push UC Merced’s fundraising total to nearly $21 million in the fiscal year that ended last month, a record level that marked a more than 300 percent increase over the previous year, the school said Wednesday.
The land in the Bellevue Ranch area in north Merced has an estimated value of nearly $10 million and was donated by a benefactor who wishes to remain anonymous, the university said in a statement.
“This is an incredible and timely gift, given that we are getting ready to start the 2020 Project, which will expand the UC Merced campus to accommodate 10,000 students in the next decade,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said in a statement. “We are exploring the best future uses of this land, including options such as graduate student housing and child care facilities for faculty, staff and students.”
The gift was the second-largest ever given to the campus, the youngest in the state’s UC system. It trails only the original 7,000 acres of land, valued at $12 million, donated in 2001 by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. That gift enabled the University of California to locate the campus in Merced and ensured that more than 6,000 acres of sensitive land would be protected, the statement said.
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The donor of the Bellevue Ranch land said he recognized the value UC Merced brings to the San Joaquin Valley and wanted to contribute to its success, according to the university.
“I wanted to do what I could to support UC Merced’s mission and, given the proximity of the land to the campus, this seemed to make the most sense,” he said, according to the statement from the school.
Other successful fundraising efforts during the 2015-16 fiscal year included Giving Tuesday, the annual day of giving that raised more than $316,000 in gifts and matching funds for undergraduate student scholarship support, the statement said. The total was enhanced by a three-to-one match supported by Foster Poultry Farms and the Wells Fargo Foundation.
The campus also received significant support from an estate gift to provide scholarships and fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of economics or business, according to UC Merced.
“This is a record-breaking year,” Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kyle Hoffman said in the statement. “The amount of philanthropic support we’ve received shows significant progress in multiple areas, including alumni giving, annual giving, corporate and foundation support, estate giving, and developed and undeveloped real estate.”
“Such gifts are critical in helping the campus support our students,” Hoffman said. “Many students are overwhelmingly thankful for the support they receive because, in many cases, they might see college as being out-of-reach without that assistance.”
UC Merced outpaces all other UC campuses in drawing applicants who are low-income and those who are first-generation students, meaning neither of their parents earned a four-year college degree. Nearly 63 percent of freshmen invited to join the campus in fall 2016 are first-generation students and 55 percent are from households earning less than $47,200.
The campus plans to enroll 2,100 freshmen this fall, an increase of 310 students compared to fall 2015.