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From the Foundation Chair

As I reflect on my second year as chair of the University of California, Merced, Foundation Board of Trustees, I am reminded what a privilege it is to work alongside campus administrators and community leaders who share the university's vision of academic excellence and its commitment to public service.

I am extremely proud of the incredible milestones the campus achieved in 2008-09. Trustees continue to support the development of a distinctive learning environment that encourages students to dream boldly and achieve their goals in spite of any obstacles in their paths.

I want to personally thank all trustees and donors who graciously donated their time and financial support to this year's historic commencement. UC Merced welcomed 12,000 people to the campus for the May event — some for the first time — and your support ensured their visit was a positive one. We couldn't have done it without you!

Building Our Membership

The foundation continues to help the university grow in scope as well as stature, while continuing to attract prominent leaders from across the state to its distinctive roster. This year's newest members included two business leaders from Southern California and two entrepreneurs from the Silicon Valley.

A Blueprint for the Future

Even in this difficult economy, the board is committed more than ever to advancing the university's critical mission. In February, the board had the opportunity to review and embrace the campus' Strategic Academic Vision and Long-Range Development Plan which will help fuel economic growth and provide solutions to the state's many challenges.

Engaging Alumni

UC Merced continues to develop its Collegiate Alumni Foundation Board, one of only a few in the nation. We support UC Merced students and alumni to instill a philanthropic spirit, and we look forward to their active participation. Trustees and donors once again embraced an important tradition for the five-year-old campus — the senior class gift. This year's ambitious class of 2009 has chosen to build an amphitheater for future generations to enjoy.

Scholarship Support

UC Merced boasts the highest percentage of first-generation college students and one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the UC system. Educating populations from across the state is essential to the university's mission. With intensified focus on access, recruitment and retention, scholarship dollars have become more important than ever. Thanks to our trustees and gracious donors, we experienced significant growth in our scholarship endowments this year.

On behalf of the foundation, I extend our heartfelt thanks for the support you have shown throughout the past year.

JoAnn Bertges, Foundation Board of Trustees Chair