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UC Merced Ascends to New Heights

September 18, 2023

Re: UC Merced Ascends to New Heights
To: All campus

To the campus community,

For years we have affirmed that UC Merced doesn’t do what it does for rankings; rather, we passionately pursue our mission of research excellence, service and student success, and others take notice.

They have taken notice in a huge way this year.

Only hours ago, the US News & World Report released its 2024 Best Colleges rankings. From among 435 national universities, UC Merced rose a remarkable 37 spots, to No. 60 in the entire country — No. 28 among all public universities nationally — ahead of two of our sister UC campuses. We climbed to No. 10 in California, and No. 7 among California public institutions.

In itself, our overall US News ranking is a significant accolade. But US News’ assessment of us as No. 4 in the entire nation for increasing social mobility for our students is the true point of pride, because it speaks directly to what every one of us does every day at UC Merced: improve the lives and careers of our student, and by extension those of their families. 

It is one data point — but one of many in recent weeks, validating our signature strengths and our breathtaking national trajectory. The Wall Street Journal listed us at No. 59 in the country overall and No. 2 for creating social mobility. The Economic Mobility Index created by the think tank Third Wave put UC Merced at No. 7 in the nation. Washington Monthly similarly ranked us at No. 56 among all US universities and top 30 for creating social mobility. Money Magazine and Forbes offered their praise as well.

Think of the wonder of this: The first public research university built in this country in the 21st century, which opened its doors to graduate students and faculty only 20 years ago, and to undergraduates a mere 18 years ago — and we have already made a reputation for ourselves on a national scale. 

Having been the youngest university to achieve Carnegie R2 classification, we have R1 squarely in our sights, attracting and retaining some of the best research faculty in the nation. And we have once again attracted a record number of first-year students, contributing to a record high enrollment this fall.

These are great accomplishments, particularly at a time when higher education enrollment is struggling across the country and the very value of higher education itself is too often questioned. Against these headwinds, UC Merced is not merely enduring, but prevailing.

Faculty, staff, alumni, students, I am proud of each of you and proud of this great university we have built and continue to build, together. And make no mistake: There are even more heights to ascend, and we have barely begun our rise.

Fiat Lux,

Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.

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