Incredible Things are Happening at UC Merced, and a Nation is Taking Notice

Other than UC Merced, name a university that was physically non-existent 18 years ago and holds a Top 100 ranking in U.S News & World Report’s list of national universities. Take your time. We’ll wait.

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Welcome back. Of course, the fact is the University of California’s youngest campus is expanding its reputation at an eye-popping rate. As Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz described it, “UC Merced is redefining momentum.” The university was No. 97 overall in the latest release of U.S. News' highly watched annual rankings. Three years earlier, UC Merced’s overall ranking was No. 165. The latest list also ranked UC Merced 40th among public universities, tied with UC Santa Cruz.

It’s been a meteoric rise for a campus that broke ground in October 2002 on the former site of Merced Hills Golf Course. At the time, “CSI” was the No. 1 show on TV. Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8tr Boi” topped the pop chart. The first classes were held three years later in Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, the only building on campus ready to use.

Today, the university is recognized for its determination to provide academic opportunity to a wide spectrum of students. U.S. News ranked UC Merced No. 1 among public universities in outperforming expected graduation rates, No. 5 among all universities in social mobility, and No. 8 overall in economic diversity (65 percent of undergraduates qualify for Pell Grants ─ the highest rate of any UC).

“We are achieving success on several measures, as these new external rankings demonstrate,” Muñoz said.

Other recent accolades support the U.S. News rankings:

  • Washington Monthly placed the university at No. 56 among national universities, and Money’s 2020 Best College list ranked UC Merced No. 76.
  • The Sierra Club ranked UC Merced fifth on its 2020 "Cool Schools" list, a testament to the university’s reputation for sustainability, and The Princeton Review placed it on its Green College Honor Roll.

No. 97 among all national universities

No. 40 among public universities

No. 1 among public universities in outperforming expected graduation rates

No. 5 among all universities in social mobility

No. 8 among all universities in economic diversity

No. 13 among public universities for highest alumni giving rate

U.s. News & World Report best colleges rankings

We are achieving success on several measures, as these new external rankings demonstrate.
Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D. Chancellor

Map to 2030: A Campus-Wide Strategic Plan

A day will come when our relationships and livelihoods aren’t dictated by a virulent, microscopic virus. But there is no advantage in waiting until then to start mapping out our future. To that end, UC Merced is embarking on its first comprehensive planning process, assembling ideas and voices from across campus to produce goals and strategies to guide the university over the next 10 years.

“Although we cannot predict the future, we can identify the values and principles that unite us, and we can create shared goals and targets that will help us align our work to achieve new degrees of excellence,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said in a message to the university.

In addition to forging its own paths, the process will weave together strategic planning already underway at schools and divisions. The university plan will set goals for three, five and 10 years, and guide the up-and-coming university to new levels of achievement, outreach and recognition.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg Camfield will lead the planning process, which will include a series of stakeholder and divisional meetings to gather ideas and help campus community members shape their contributions to the plan. Watch for more information about how to get involved.