UC President Richard Atkinson has selected UC Merced as the name for the university's proposed 10th campus. The campus is scheduled to open its doors to students in 2005.
The formal announcement was made at a Dec. 18 ceremony at the Merced County Courthouse Museum in the form of a letter from Atkinson to the UC Board of Regents.
The name of the new campus has remained uncertain for several years while the university conducted a site selection process in Central California. During that time, UC officials assigned the campus the generic title "UC San Joaquin." In May 1995 the future campus site-near Lake Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada foothills five miles northeast of Merced-was chosen. But the name of the new campus was never resolved.
At a regents' meeting this fall, Atkinson promised he would resolve the name issue before Christmas.
In his letter, Atkinson told regents his selection of the name UC Merced recognized that the name was already gaining acceptance across the state and was consistent with the university's tradition of using the names of nearby cities in referring to its campuses. He also said the name would honor the people of the city and county of Merced who had been "steadfast in their advocacy and support of the new campus."
The campus will serve the entire San Joaquin Valley and the state. Atkinson said the university is already moving ahead with the development of new UC classes, academic research projects and other educational programs in Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Modesto and Visalia and other valley communities to help set the stage for the new campus.
Atkinson's letter stressed that the regents must still exercise an option agreement to acquire the campus site. Atkinson also said the start of construction at the site depends on further regental action and on adequate state funds to develop the campus while ensuring the continued health and enrollment expansion of UC's nine existing campuses.
Earlier this year, the state legislature and the governor approved $4.9 million to begin planning. UC will seek additional funding for the new campus this year.