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The Promise of a New Academic Year

September 13, 2023

Re: The Promise of a New Academic Year
To: Faculty and staff

To the campus community,

We have embarked upon another academic year with hope, success, and the promise of transformation and innovation.

Our student enrollment remains the highest in UC Merced history — a history now reaching, by one metric, its 20th year: two decades ago this fall, the first faculty and graduate students arrived at the former Castle Air Force Base to carry on research and begin planning the intellectual future of this university. A series of stories and indeed celebrations will begin this fall and culminate in fall 2025, which marks the 20th anniversary of the first undergraduate class arriving in Merced.

Honoring that past means not living in it; instead, we look to our future, and it shines. During this academic year we expect final Board of Regents approval for our Medical Education Building; our first cohort of BS-to-MD students has already joined us on campus. We have just announced plans for an intersegmental residence hall, Promise Housing, with Merced College, for community college and transfer students seeking to expand their degrees to the full bachelor’s. And we are in the planning stages for a Classroom and Office Building 3, to add even more teaching and learning spaces to our inventory.

We have added several undergraduate programs to begin in fall 2024, including a new campuswide Honors Program, with more under consideration by the Academic Senate. This makes UC Merced even more attractive to more students and faculty who will find on Lake Road an even broader span of intellectual pursuits. Faculty lead the way in program creation, and they have shown the passion and drive for success that has always been the mark of UC Merced. 

They are supported by the innovative Accelerate Campus’ Evolution (ACE) fund recently negotiated with the Office of the President. ACE will match student demand with faculty expertise to help guide the development of new majors, with budget to support faculty and staff hiring to ensure the success of those majors. With the promise of ACE, we expect to hire 100 new faculty by 2030, along with appropriate staff growth to support our academic and research missions.

From the newly named Fred and Mitzie Ruiz Administration Center to the labyrinth overlooking Little Lake, and even more, we have already seen our campus transforming this fall. We live in an exciting time at UC Merced — and no less so because we remember our humbler beginnings two decades ago, and how fast and far we have risen since then. That history of success and momentum, and the spirit of our faculty and staff, are what make our future so much brighter.

Go 'cats!

Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.

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