UC Merced Pioneer Graduates Honored

May 9, 2009 12:32:45 PM PDT
UC Merced is the newest and smallest campus in the University of California system. Its future never seemed never secure until now. To honor the current graduating class, a reception was held in downtown Merced on Friday night. Congressman Dennis Cardoza was one of the hosts. "I think back to 1996 when I got elected on my first day in office I talked to one of my old sage legislators about getting this campus built and he told me, aw kid, it's a pipe dream, it will never happen." Cardoza said.

Some legislators labeled the planned tenth campus a "boondoggle." Environmental concerns about the site threatened to keep the University stuck on a small plot of land. But after 8 years and extensive mitigation plans to preserve wetlands and protect endangered species, the Army Corps of Engineers recently approved the site plan. UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang says now the University can grow.

"Finally we have a permit for the campus footprint, which will give us assurance we will have a large scale campus." With only 2,500 students now, the school is eventually expected to serve 25,000 students." Kang said.

The big event on campus will be the visit by First Lady Michelle Obama. She is scheduled to deliver the commencement address to the graduating class next week. Students, including Effermen Ezell of Compton, helped organize a campaign to attract the First Lady.

"It's hard to believe that she is coming here. I think that more than anything it proves UC Merced is not too small." Ezell said.

The graduates at next week's ceremony won't be the first students to receive degrees from UC Merced, but they are members of the Pioneer class, the first to complete all four years at the University of California at Merced." Many students, like Drew Glazer, who's from Los Angeles remember arriving at an unfinished campus that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

"It took some getting used to but I'm really glad I came here and I actually like the town and the surroundings." Glazer said.

The small campus is on the move and this reception, hosted by Congressman Cardoza and Chancellor Kang is a thank you to the Pioneer Class of 500 graduates.

      MORE LOCAL NEWS | TWEET@ABC30 | FREE ABC30 WIDGET
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
Breaking News E-Mail Alerts | Text Message Alerts
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
More News on abc30.com
California/State | National/World | Weather | Entertainment | Business | Politics | Sports | Health Watch | Consumer Watch | Mr. Food |
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Load Comments