UC Merced Update

Campus Prepares for Ongoing Demand and Growth


UC MercedUC Merced is preparing for what will likely be another remarkable year in its development.

This year, the campus will appoint new leadership, open additional buildings, increase enrollment and hire more faculty members.

"UC Merced continues to gain momentum as it heads into the middle of its sixth academic year," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "The passing year was filled with many achievements that have positioned the campus to be a leader in the Valley in numerous ways."

Despite unprecedented budget challenges, UC Merced has continued to grow. Student enrollment is at 4,381, a 28 percent increase over last year, and economic investment has topped $1.1 billion statewide.

UC Merced has received more than 13,000 undergraduate applications for Fall 2011, a nearly 11 percent increase over last year. The campus’ growth rates are among the highest in the 10-campus UC system, according to data released today by the UC Office of the President. System-wide, total freshman and transfer applications increased 6.1 percent.

Kevin Browne, UC Merced assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management, said student applications are broadly representative of the entire state and reflect a highly diverse and talented mix of well-qualified candidates.

Freshman applications were up nearly 9 percent to 11,532. Applications from students hoping to transfer to UC Merced increased more than 22 percent to 2,169.

The growth reflects increasing demand for innovative academic programs, hands-on research opportunities, student services and amenities at UC Merced.

The biggest story for the university this year will likely be the naming of the campus' third chancellor. With Kang stepping down at the end of June to focus on his research into integrated circuits, the UC Office of the President is in the midst of conducting a nationwide search to recruit someone to fill the top campus leadership position. A successor should be named in the spring.

The campus will also be filling another key leadership slot — the dean of the School of Natural Sciences. Founding Dean Maria Pallavicini accepted the provost position with University of the Pacific and begins there in February. A search committee is being formed to find a successor before the Fall 2011 semester begins.

Pallavicini was appointed to the post in 2002. She previously was a professor at UCSF. As a founding dean, she was instrumental in developing the academic offerings within the school. Most recently, she oversaw the construction of the campus' stem cell foundry, which was funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Construction on the Social Sciences and Management Building will conclude during the summer. The three-story building, scheduled to open in Fall 2011, will be the campus' newest academic building and accommodate the growth in the number of faculty members.

Later this year, crews will begin construction on the Science and Engineering Building 2, which will contain 102,000 square feet of lab, instructional and support space. Last week, leaders with the state and UC Merced dedicated the site for the campus' fifth academic building, which will help in furthering its mission of innovative research in the sciences and engineering.

Both buildings will meet the campus' commitment to environmentally friendly design and construction, with a minimum goal of a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program.

The campus will be adding about 50 more faculty members in the next few years to accommodate the increase in enrollment and to help in establishing the campus' management school, which will train students to be the business leaders of tomorrow.

The tenure-track faculty members will be tasked with developing innovative interdisciplinary research programs while also teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels.