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UC Merced growth plan gets approval
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The University of California, Merced, received final approval from the UC Board of Regents Thursday for an expansion plan that will nearly double the physical capacity of campus by 2020, enabling enrollment growth to 10,000 students after the project is completed.


The regents voted unanimously to approve the design proposal of the selected developer, Plenary Properties Merced; the proposed external financing; amendments to the project’s budget and scope; and revisions of the commercial terms of the project agreement.


“This is a historic step forward for UC Merced, the UC system, and the growing numbers of talented students throughout California who want and deserve a UC education,” said Dorothy Leland, UC Merced chancellor. “By significantly expanding the newest UC campus, we are redoubling our commitment to the San Joaquin Valley, the fastest-growing but most underserved region of the state, while providing critically needed access to many more qualified students throughout California.”


The regents’ approvals clear the way for a formal project agreement to be executed as early as mid-August, with groundbreaking scheduled for October. The project will add approximately 1.2 million gross square feet (790,000 assignable square feet) of teaching, research, residential and student-support facilities adjacent to the existing campus. First building deliveries are planned for 2018, with substantial completion anticipated by 2020.


“This project represents a major step forward for a trailblazing campus that will build on its early record of excellence to lead the way for universities across the nation as we all strive to teach, conduct research and serve the public in the most dynamic, efficient manner possible,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “Final approval of the project is especially significant at a time when we are expanding opportunity by increasing enrollment of Californians by thousands throughout our nine undergraduate campuses, and aiming to maintain that growth beyond 2020.”


The project is expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs in the San Joaquin Valley (more than 12,000 statewide) during the four-year construction period. The one-time economic benefit to the region will be an estimated $1.9 billion ($2.4 billion statewide).