How Will UC Merced Grow?—a 21st Century Approach to Campus Expansion

Thursday, March 2, 2017
12pm to 1pm with lunch with lunch to follow
Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle 117 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor,University of California, Merced
Vice Chancellor, Planning and Budget,University of California, Merced


As a means to accommodate the projected growth of eligible students, the University of California opened its tenth campus in 2005. The long-range goal for the University of California, Merced embraced a vision of a full-service research university that would serve 25,000 students at full capacity. Today’s challenge is how to meet those ambitious expectations in an era of diminished state support for higher education.

The UC Merced 2020 Project embraces a unique public-private partnership as a stepping stone toward long-term growth. The Project will create the physical capacity for a total of 10,000 students by approximately 2020, adding new academic and research buildings, student housing and activities facilities, and community-oriented space.

The presentation will articulate the many elements that were critical to how the plan emerged and lessons learned along the way. What is required for a successful public-private partnership of this scale? What academic goals will be achieved? How is a suitable partner chosen and how does a campus work with this kind of partner?

The UC Merced approach has already sparked interest in the United States and abroad. The presentation will conclude with an opportunity for questions from the audience. 


Thomas W. Peterson is Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of the University of California, Merced.  He joined the university in December 2012.

He began his academic career as assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arizona in 1977.  He was named head of the Chemical Engineering Department in 1990, and in that capacity, he oversaw the merger of the Chemical and Environmental Engineering departments into a single unit and initiated named graduate-degree programs (MS and Ph. D.) in environmental engineering.

Beginning in 1998, Peterson served for 11 years as dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering, where he oversaw 15 graduate and 18 undergraduate programs, 13 of which were ABET accredited. 

In 2009 he was asked to lead the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation, a $7 billion federal agency that invests in the nation’s research and education activities in the fields of science and engineering.

While working at NSF, Peterson promoted the integration of research and education investments and interdisciplinary research that contributes to the solution of large-scale grand challenge problems. After completing a 4 year term in the fall of 2012, he joined UC Merced.

Peterson holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a master’s degree from the University of Arizona and a doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology, all in the field of chemical engineering.

Daniel Feitelberg joined the University of California, Merced in December 2012 to establish a new Division of Planning and Budget and serve as the chancellor’s chief financial advisor. 

In his role as Vice Chancellor, Dan led the launch of the Merced 2020 Project.  The project opens a new chapter for infrastructure management in American public higher education through a performance-based, public-private partnership.  The $1.3 billion project extends the first phase of campus onto a greenfield site and provides 1.2 million square feet of sustainable infrastructure, academic, housing and student life facilities.  The university reached financial close in August 2016.  The first facilities are scheduled to open 2018 with substantial completion in 2020.  The project has been honored as the 2016 Americas P3 Deal of the Year by Project Finance International.  In addition, Vice Chancellor Feitelberg was named P3 Bulletin’s 2016 Individual Contributor of the Year.

With thirteen years of investment banking experience, Daniel has also helped raise debt capital for governments in the taxable and tax-exempt capital markets. Mr. Feitelberg’s experience includes projects for transportation, energy, water, education and healthcare enterprises, as well as capital projects and operational funding for state and local governments through the financial crisis. 

He graduated cum laude from the University of California, Davis, with degrees from the College of Letters and Sciences and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  He resides in Burlingame, California with his wife, Brittany, and daughters, Aria and Avery.