UC Merced Update

Systemwide Effort to Raise $1 Billion to Assist Students


Azucena RoblesParamount Farms has pledged $1 million to a scholarship fund at the University of California, Merced, in an effort to help low-income students from the south San Joaquin Valley pursue their higher education dreams.

The pledge comes just as the University of California system ramps up its effort to provide more student scholarships.

"The Resnicks and the leadership of Paramount Farms are demonstrably committed to access to education in the Valley," said David Hosley, interim vice chancellor for University Relations. "This leadership gift is a great investment in our growing university and young people, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college. The Paramount Farms Scholarship Fund will give students from the region the opportunity for a life-transforming experience."

In a climate of declining state support and California's bleak economic outlook, support for student scholarships and fellowships has become one of UC's highest fundraising priorities.

In October 2009, President Mark Yudof announced the kickoff of Project You Can, a systemwide effort to raise $1 billion for student support over the next four years.

During the first year of Project You Can, the campuses collectively raised $123 million for undergraduate, graduate and professional school students. UC Merced has garnered nearly $1.6 million.

At UC, private donations account for about 7 percent of the overall budget this year, a relatively small amount compared with the large private research universities. Yet these gifts play an important role in UC's ability to support its academic and research programs. Collectively, the 10 UC campuses raised about $1.325 billion during the 2009-10 fiscal year. The gifts come from a mix of private foundations, corporations and individuals. Nearly all the gifts, 98 percent, are restricted to a specific use by the donors, with the largest portion of donations supporting academic departments and research.

Paramount Farms, owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick, is the largest farmer of tree crops in the world. The company processes almonds, lemons, oranges and pistachios.

Stewart Resnick, a graduate from the University of California, said he and his wife understand how higher education can provide the foundation for a successful career.

"We have been pleased to watch how scholarships can help open doors for students in our community," Stewart Resnick said. "Helping students attend UC Merced is an investment that will pay dividends in so many ways."

Azucena Robles, a mechanical engineering major from Bakersfield who will graduate in May 2013, is among the students who have been helped by Paramount Farms' scholarships. 

"This scholarship has helped me begin to achieve my long-term goal, which is to obtain higher education, find a great job and be a successful woman," Robles said.

Like thousands of UC students, Robles is getting the opportunity to pursue her goals through the gifts and financial aid the university provides. About 57 percent of undergraduates receive some kind of grant or scholarship aid, and more than 20,000 students each year get aid funded through private gifts.