Dear Campus Community,
I write to you today in celebration of some significant milestones in our campus’s young history, and with gratitude for all the hard work so many of you have put into building a university that is now truly coming into its own.
Last spring, the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) came to town as part of our reaffirmation of accreditation review. Professor Nate Monroe and Laura Martin of the Academic Senate masterfully led our institutional self-study, and many of you participated. At the conclusion of its visit, the external review team produced a report that was endorsed by the commission and extended our accreditation for the maximum period of 10 years. That report by far was one of the most positive assessments of institutional progress that I’ve seen.
Among other things, the report commended your robust engagement in the assessment of student learning and the palpable dedication of faculty and staff at UC Merced to student success. Already, UC Merced has achieved recognition as an engine of social mobility and for its success in graduating first-generation, low-income, and minority students at rates that far exceed the national average.
We are also making a mark in national polls. Although there are legitimate criticisms of various polls and rankings, they nonetheless serve as public markers of institution progress and prestige. In this week’s release of the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges rankings , UC Merced was among the biggest risers in the rankings , jumping 29 spots to No. 136 overall among National Universities and 20 spots to No. 67 for Top Public Schools.
I’m even more proud to say that we are No. 2 in the nation for exceeding predicted graduation rates: The students who choose UC Merced are not just talented and academically qualified, they are also incredibly dedicated and willing to do the work required to succeed. How do we help those students succeed? A big part of it is how we teach, and I am delighted to say UC Merced ranks No. 17 among public schools for undergraduate teaching, as judged by our peers. If there was a similar category for student life and support services, I have no doubt that we would rank highly in this area as well.
Washington Monthly’s 2018 College Guide and Rankings , which focuses primarily on social mobility, research and service, ranked us No. 39 in the nation, and No. 30 for alumni earnings. So not only do our students excel here, they leave to excel in their future endeavors as well. The credit goes to our students, but also to our staff and faculty. Students tell me over and over about the benefits of working side by side with faculty on research projects. They speak to me about the caring attitude and actions of faculty and staff alike. The things you do well day in and day out matter to the success of our students.
I appreciate your dedication and many contributions to UC Merced. It has rarely been easy, but in 14 short years you have shown that UC Merced is living its promise, serving both as an engine of social mobility and as place where historically underserved student populations can participate in learning and discovery of the highest quality.