The University of California Merced hit a milestone this academic year with the largest and most diverse class of incoming freshmen, the largest contingent of graduate students, the largest total enrollment and the largest body of faculty members in its history.
This fall, freshman enrollment of 1,600 students will exceed last year’s then-record class size by about 100 students. Students hail primarily from the San Francisco Bay Area (30 percent), the greater Los Angeles area (30 percent) and the San Joaquin Valley (40 percent) and comprise the most diverse incoming class in the university’s history.
UC Merced leads the UC system in the percentage of students from underrepresented ethnic groups, low-income families and families whose parents did not attend college.
Total enrollment is expected to approach 6,200 students this fall, up from 5,760 a year ago. (An exact count will be available in late September.) Students will be able to enjoy or compete in two new intercollegiate sports (men’s volleyball and soccer) in addition to six other sports previously established.
UC Merced also opened a new residential hall this year.
The newest resident hall — Half Dome — was recently completed and will increases on-campus housing capacity by 30 percent. Half Dome is now home to 530 undergraduate students.
The first through third floors of the building are home to first-year students; continuing students occupy the top two floors, a mix that director of Housing and Residence Life Leslie Santos said will be a benefit. The presence of returning students shows the freshmen a different aspect of things and provides a great resource. Her department worked diligently to increase the number of returning students who chose to live on campus.
At five stories, the location of the common areas encourages residents to engage in collaborative projects and study in groups.
Similar to other residence halls on campus, Half Dome boasts a game room with tables for billiards, ping-pong and foosball, and four TV screens for gaming. All common areas are open to all residents. A new feature exclusive to Half Dome is a refreshment area with a hydration station, microwave, ice machine and vending machines with 24-hour CatCard access.
With the addition of the newest hall, the campus can provide beds for 2,100 students, including approximately 70 percent more space for continuing students from previous years. More students residing on campus means fewer students commuting.