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Merced 2020 Project

September 6, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As the 2020 Project moves forward, I want to share some additional detail on its implementation.

This, by design, will be a very different type of design and construction process than we have used in the past.  It is fast-paced.  It has an aggressive schedule.  And it relies on a sharply defined budget.   

Our ability to capture the benefits of delivering new buildings on time and within our financial means is dependent on the campus providing decisive, strategic input to our development partner, Plenary Properties Merced, over the next four years.

But at the same time, success for the 2020 Project cannot only be defined by timely delivery of new facilities.  It also means ensuring the campus fulfills its mission throughout the duration and disruption of a large construction project and that the buildings ultimately delivered meet our long term needs.

Achieving this type of success requires leadership and open channels of communication among faculty, students, staff and other stakeholders.  This may seem like a tall task, but I believe we can do it.  

The next 18 months

The next 18 months represent one of the most critical periods for the project.  Although you may be familiar with the conceptual renderings of the project, the architects and engineers are already working hard to further refine the actual functionality and design of the buildings.

At various points, our development partner will be asking the campus to provide specific, concrete input.  There will be strict time limitations for responding and limited budgetary tolerance for change orders.

To manage this process, we have developed a governance and decision making framework consistent with our priorities and with best practices for this type project delivery.

Project Board

As envisioned, the key component of the governance structure includes a Project Board, advisory to me, and charged with ensuring the campus and the 2020 Project meet their overarching objectives, provides both timely decision making and checks and balances on competing campus interests, and proactively manages any organizational change necessary to be 2020-ready.   I have asked Associate Chancellor Ed Klotzbier to serve as chair of the Project Board. Within the Board, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Tom Peterson will provide the mission critical perspective of our academic needs and priorities while Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies will similarly represent the interests of our students.  Assistant Vice Chancellor Veronica Mendez will be stepping out of her previous role as interim project executive to serve as Senior Owner’s adviser to the Board, bringing with her the wealth of knowledge she has gathered about the project through her leadership over final selection, the best-and-final-offer process and financial close.  I have asked Veronica to lead a transition process with the Project Development Team to ensure execution of the project proceeds forward as smoothly as possible.

Strategic Advisors

The Project Board will benefit from the input of an ad hoc set of Strategic Advisors that will provide advice and support on matters that potentially impact the project’s objectives, operations, or functionality.  From academic priorities to student life to operations, this advisory structure is designed to tap expertise from across the entire campus.   Of special note, I want to emphasize that the 2020 Project’s fast pace must substantively interface with the decision making processes that are part of the University’s shared governance framework.  To that end I have asked Professor Susan Amussen to serve as the Academic Senate representative within the governance structure.

Project Development Team

On a day-to-day basis, the Project Development team located at the Promenade office complex is already hard at work preparing for the wave of construction and logistical activities that lie ahead.

Within that team, Associate Vice Chancellor Mike McLeod, Physical Operations, Planning and Development will serve as owner’s representative and project executive in overseeing construction and prepare the campus for the operations and maintenance functions of new facilities that will be delivered through the 2020 Project.

Andy Boyd, Executive Director of Business and Financial Strategic Initiatives, will manage the solicitation of input from and interface with campus stakeholders, the design team and campus leadership.

And having joined us this fall, on a contract basis, Adam Shaw will provide on-site project management leadership based on his extensive track record of delivering buildings based on the development model we are using.

This is an exciting time for our campus.   We will nearly double our physical capacity in just four years – but I cannot promise it will be easy.  As the changes ahead take shape around us, I hope you will be able to provide input using the structure we have established and ask for your understanding as the project unfolds.

As always, you can follow progress of the Project online at Merced 2020 and through social media on Instagram: @ucmercedconstruction2020 or on Twitter: @UCMerced_2020


Dorothy Leland

P.S.  I look forward to seeing you at groundbreaking on October 14, 2016 at 1 pm.

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