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September 19, 1997

Regents committee recommends continuation of 10th campus planning

By Mark Aydelotte (209/225-5611)
UC Regional Office

A committee of the University of California's Board of Regents has recommended the Regents authorize continued planning and development of a 10th campus of the University of California at Lake Yosemite near Merced.

The action was approved by the Regents Committee on Educational Policy at a meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, Sept. 18. The committee's action will be voted on by the full board tomorrow.

Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, UC vice-provost for academic initiatives, told the Regents the state's recent approval of $4.9 million for the planning and development of a 10th UC campus prompted the need for a formal authorization by the board. The board's authorization for new campus planning would also complete the next step in the formal statewide approval process for the campus.

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC), the state organization that evaluates new campus plans for the legislature and the governor, had asked for a resolution from the Regents authorizing planning for the new campus.

Tomlinson-Keasey praised the efforts of Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante (D-Fresno) to secure planning funds for the new campus. "We had extraordinary support from Speaker Bustamante and we certainly want to express our appreciation for that support," Tomlinson-Keasey said. "These new funds will allow us to move forward on several academic initiatives and site-planning studies."

The 1997-98 state budget includes a permanent augmentation of $4.9 million to the university's operating budget for planning, startup costs, and ongoing support for the 10th campus and development of new university academic programs in the San Joaquin Valley.

The state also approved $100,000 for CPEC to conduct its review of the university's plans for the new campus in the San Joaquin Valley.

Tomlinson-Keasey described the three-stage review process used by CPEC for the new campus. The first stage is a systemwide long-range plan. UC completed the first stage of the review with a comprehensive planning effort in 1988 that has been subsequently updated.

The second stage is a letter of intent to expand. Such a letter was conveyed to CPEC by UC President Richard C. Atkinson in April 1997. That letter, however, did not include the formal authorization from the Regents to plan the new campus.

The third stage of CPEC's review is a "needs study" and is the actual proposal for the new campus. It includes the environmental impact report for the new campus site, an academic master plan, and an enrollment projection that has been approved by the California Department of Finance Demographic Research unit. The third stage will not be undertaken by the university until the Regents are prepared to begin construction of the new campus.

"We continue to make clear to our valley supporters, our nine campuses, the commission, and the state that this decision depends on the assurance that our current campuses can receive the support they need to prosper and grow," Tomlinson-Keasey said.

"We also need to be assured that state and other funding sources will be adequate to create a campus that will meet the University of California's standards of high quality," Tomlinson-Keasey said. Exercise of the option agreement to acquire the campus site near Merced and the start of construction at the site will be subject to future votes of the UC Regents.

A status report on planning for a 10th UC campus was presented to the Board of Regents at its July meeting. The report stressed that development of a 10th campus would enable the university to maintain overall undergraduate access at the levels set by the California Master Plan for Higher Education. It also noted the university's ability to build the 10th campus depends on adequate resources both to develop the new campus and to ensure the continued health and enrollment expansion of the university's existing campuses.

Before a decision can be made to proceed with construction of the 10th campus, funding actions are needed to secure long-term operating budget support for enrollment expansion as well as capital funds for campus construction along with off-site infrastructure.

In the meantime, UC's Office of the President has begun work on an academic transition plan that will lay out strategies for academic development of the campus, including student and academic support services, and for the hiring of founding faculty and academic administration.

And, in addition, a faculty advisory committee is developing a preliminary academic plan for the 10th campus. These plans will be completed this fall and, after consultation with various internal groups, will be submitted to CPEC.

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