Governor Gray Davis has inaugurated the 10th University of California campus.
The University of California, Merced, campus is the state’s first since U.C. Santa Cruz opened in 1967 and will serve the San Joaquin Valley.
Davis has committed more than $230 million to the U.C. Merced campus over three years – despite its potential threats to endangered species and doubt inside the U.C. system about funding a new campus.
The new university will host major research on the Sierra Nevada and world cultures.
More than 1,000 people attended the inaugural event on a former golf course near Merced.
The 900-acre campus is expected to open with its first 1,000 students in 2004 and will grow to 25,000 students by 2030.
The ceremony was originally scheduled for May, but was delayed because of environmental lawsuits. A pair of recent legal victories cleared the way for construction to begin on the campus´ first 100 acres.
Further construction depends on a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency is considering whether to allow the campus onto wetlands where vernal pools are home to endangered fairy shrimp and serve as feeding grounds for migratory birds.