UC Merced ranked one of the nation’s top young universities, new ranking reports

 

More than 1,000 students walked the stage at UC Merced in the university’s 10th commencement ceremonies Saturday in Merced. More will walk the stage Sunday. (Thaddeus Miller/tmiller@mercedsunstar.com) http://www.mercedsunstar.com

The University of California, Merced landed on a list of the top five “young universities” in the country.

The University tied with Rush University in Ill., at number four among U.S. universities in the 2019 Times Higher Education Young University Rankings, according to a UC Merced news release.

This is UC Merced’s first year of eligibility for the ranking, which evaluates research, teaching, citations, industry income and international outlook of the qualifying universities.

“I consider this ranking to be an incredible feat for our young campus because it shows that we are a top-notch university that is already being recognized for excellence at just 14 years old,” said Chancellor Dorothy Leland in a news release.

Universities that ranked ahead of UC Merced on the list were the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Texas at Dallas and George Mason University.

Last fall, UC Merced was ranked number 67 among public schools by the U.S. News and World Report. The ranking was an increase of 20 spots from the previous year according to the university. 

The university has also been ranked number 15 for social mobility, number 17 for best undergraduate teaching among public universities as well as being ranked number two in the nation for outperforming graduation rate expectations, according to the news release. 

UC Merced was also recognized last year as “University of the Year” by Education Dive.

https://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/education/uc-merced/article231992142.html

New $25M Oakhurst Community College ‘On Schedule,’ Could Open In 2022

OAKHURST – The new $25M Oakhurst Community College Center is quickly taking shape. Late Friday, college officials released an updated project timeline that could have students in classrooms as early as fall of 2022.

According to Darin Soukup, director at the Oakhurst Community College Center, construction is now slated to start late next year — and be completed in the spring of 2022.

“At this point, we’re actually pretty close to being right on schedule,” Soukup said Friday.

Pond on new Oakhurst College site – photo Gina Clugston

The new campus will be located behind the True Value Hardware building and the Mountain Christian Center adjacent to the Madera County Sheriff’s Department substation. The 30-acre development site overlooks a large pond and is framed by sweeping mountain views.

The site was selected, in part, for its access to — and visibility from — Highway 49.

“We had very thorough site selection analysis,” Soukup said. “[The development site] is still part of a wildland urban interface, however the location was determined to be the most defensible in the case of a wildfire.”

New Oakhurst Community College design – photo George Lurie

To be built in phases as the area’s population grows, Soukup confirmed the new center will operate initially from one 28,000-square-foot building. The campus master plan, according to project architect Paul Halajian, will allow for expansion as enrollment and future funding dictate.

Halajian, principal at Paul Halajian Architects, the Clovis-based firm designing the new center, said this week that his team is “just starting the schematic design phase” of the new campus.

“Right now, we’re determining what the first building will look like and how elements like the parking lot, landscaping and common areas will be laid out,” Halajian said. “We don’t want to go in and level the area. We want to work with the natural terrain. This is not going to look like an urban campus.”

By late spring, college officials plan to host another community meeting to unveil final design renderings.

Kim Patten of the LA-based design firm Steinberg Hart – photo courtesy Paul Halajian

Halajian’s firm was selected from a pool of pre-qualified applicants and is teaming with Los Angeles-based architectural group Steinberg Hart on the project. While Halajian is the “architect of record,” Steinberg Hart’s Kim Patten is the lead design architect.

Halajian said he partnered with Steinberg Hart because the firm has “more experience master planning a large campus project.”

Halajian has been the campus architect for Fresno State since 2005 and has designed a number of buildings on campus, including the new Physical Therapy and Intercollegiate Athletics Center. The Valley native also designed the new monument at Fresno State commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

When asked at community meetings held in Oakhurst last month and late last year what they would like the new center to look like, Halajian said participants expressed the greatest interest in a “contemporary style.”

New Oakhurst Community College parcel map

“That was the aesthetic that seemed to resonate most with both faculty and community members,” he said. “It’s not going to look like a log cabin. But [the new center] is going to celebrate nature and natural materials.”

The facility will be designed to include community spaces and offer senior activities. “We want it to be an economic engine for eastern Madera County and place for the community to be proud of,” the architect said.

Oakhurst Community College Center is part of the State Center Community College District (SCCCD), a network of area community colleges that includes Fresno City, Madera, Clovis Community and Reedley Colleges.

The new Oakhurst Center was approved by SCCCD trustees after voters OK’d Bond Measure C in 2016. The facility will replace the current Oakhurst Community College Center, which is adjacent to the Oakhurst Library.

Current Oakhurst college campus – photo Gina Clugston

About 1,050 students are enrolled in classes this academic year at the downtown campus, which uses portable buildings as classrooms.

“The majority of our students are part-time and tend to be older,” Soukup said. “These students, known as re-entry students, are coming back to school needing to be re-skilled because they are desiring a new career path.”

SCCCD officials paid $1.8 million for the new campus site, leaving $23.2 million to spend on design and construction. Halajian said $17.5M is earmarked for construction costs and $5.5M for permits, fees, testing, furniture and equipment.

When completely up and running, the new center is expected to double student enrollment.

For Halajian, the chance to design such an important project is sure to be a career highlight.

“We are really excited to be part of this,” he said. “The building site is absolutely stunning. It’s the kind of site architects just die to work on.”

https://sierranewsonline.com/new-25m-oakhurst-community-college-on-schedule-could-open-in-2022/

Community welcomes home Madera HS robotics team after win at world championship

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — MadTown Robotics 1323 is sporting a new title: World Champions.

Fresh off their victory from the 2019 FIRST championships in Houston, the team was greeted at Fresno Yosemite international airport by dozens of family, friends and city leaders.

Even the Mayor of Madera, Andy Medellin, put his Easter plans on hold to congratulate the team.

“In Madera, we all stick together. We’re all there for one another regardless,” he said. “Whether it’s sports teams or academics our schools in general we come together to help support.”

That support system wasn’t only celebrating the victory, the team attributes their success to their parents, mentors, Madera Unified, and their sponsors.

“Most of our mentors are alumni so most of our support comes from the Central Valley,” said team member Roger Villagomez.

Each year more than 4,000 teams around the globe are given specific instructions and a timeline to build a robot for competitions.

“It’s crazy to see where we started just 4 years ago to now right,” Villagomez said.