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2020 Project: UC Merced celebrates opening of two new campus research buildings

UC Merced celebrated the completion of the second phase of the university’s $1.33 billion 2020 project on Wednesday night.

The second phase included two laboratories, a loading dock and a recreation field.

The project also included a research modular server near the Central Plant that will enable electronic storage of research, according to UC Merced’s website.

People were able to tour the new Arts and Computational Sciences, which includes a lecture hall that can seat 290 students and contains a 15-by-50 feet projection screen. The new building also houses a new dance studio.

Tours were also available of the new Sustainability Research and Engineering Building, which contains 31 dry labs, 25 wet labs, an academic machine shop, a maker space, and chemical stockroom.

The new structures will be available when classes start on Aug. 28.

“We’re well on our way to constructing in four years what it took other campuses a generation to build,” said outgoing UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “It’s always been in UC Merced’s DNA, but once again we’ve shown that UC Merced is a model of innovation.”

The first phase of the 2020 project, which included a dining hall and two student housing buildings was completed last year.

Among the speakers on hand to celebrate UC Merced’s latest additions were Merced Mayor Mike Murphy and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Merced.

“The 2020 project accelerated the growth and opportunity for higher education and research in Merced, the Central Valley and the state of California,” Murphy said. “Merced is a city on the rise, Merced County is a county on the rise, and the Central Valley is a region on the rise in large part because of the strength, presence and the growth of UC Merced.

“This is Chancellor Leland’s vision to bring a modern educational experience to life for a new era of students.”

Costa also thanked Leland’s leadership for the past eight years.

“We are so, so proud of this institution of learning,” Costa said. “One can only imagine the lasting impacts it will have, not just to our Valley, to our state, but to the nation and the world. For this is where leaders come to be educated that will later on go and make their mark.”

Leland said all the construction has been completed on time and on budget.

The third phase of construction has already started. It’s expected to include more laboratories, housing, an expansion of the Early Childhood Education Center, a conference center, a competitive swimming pool, a wellness center, recreational fields and a space for enrollment and academic leadership.

The third phase is expected to be completed by Fall 2020.

“The focus will necessarily shift from the buildings we have now constructed to the research and learning that will happen in these buildings,” Leland said. “Thereby further enhancing our academic and research stature, increasing our graduation rates, and providing even more access and opportunity to California’s emerging citizenry, many of whom are low income, underrepresented and first-generation students.”

“UC Merced keeps growing and keeps getting better,” Murphy added. “This is a milestone for the university and the city of Merced. We can thank the leadership of Dorothy Leland for that.”

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