Project on UC Merced

The Founding of the University of California, Merced

In 2005, the University of California opened its first new campus in 40 years, UC Merced. Planning, building and opening the first new American research university of the 21st century has proven to be a daunting task, with much to tell us about the state of higher education today.

The Center for Studies in Higher Education hosted two groups making a record of that early history. The first included most of the chief academic and budget administrators, who completed a book recording their challenges and achievements. From Rangeland to Research University: the Birth of University of California, Merced, co-edited by Karen Merritt and Jane Lawrence, was published in Fall, 2007 as #139 in the Jossey-Bass New Directions for Higher Education series. The book can be found on-line at

The second group includes members of the Tenth Campus Site Selection Task Force Executive Staff. The group has been compiling site selection files for UC Merced's library and archival collection. Members also gave oral histories and met with a campus honors class that published a 2009 book, The Fairy Shrimp Chronicles: an Informal History of the Founding of UC Merced.