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research at UC Merced

GOAL 1: Engage Our World and Region Through Discovery and the Advancement of Knowledge1

We are a young campus already recognized for the unparalleled trajectory and quality of our research. As we move toward joining the select number of campuses at the very high research classification (R1), we will continue to establish ourselves as a national hub for interdisciplinary and transformational research that supports equity and prosperity globally and locally, with particular sensitivity for the San Joaquin Valley. Research experiences, a hallmark of our educational programs, will provide fertile ground for our undergraduate and graduate students to develop the 21st century skills and knowledge essential to creating and leading positive change at global, national, and local levels.

Measure 1.1.1: Advancement rates for tenure and promotion, disaggregated to track parity.2

Targets: Maintain or increase the percentage of faculty promoted at barrier promotions; develop capacity to regularly disaggregate and report data.

Measure 1.1.2: Number of impactful publications, relevant to disciplinary norms.

Targets: Increase department-specific numbers; metrics will be developed.

Measure 1.1.3: Participation in public and professional service activities related to areas of expertise.

Targets: Increase the number of awards, consultancies, advisory board memberships, Op-eds, public scholarship, media citations, etc. that reflect contributions to public and professional service; metrics will be developed.

Example Strategic Initiatives:

  • Grow industry, agency, and community relationships to support and collaborate on research and educational programs
  • Continue to invest in areas of faculty research expertise through academic planning
  • Continue to improve and expand mentoring and workshops to support faculty tenure, promotion, and advancement
  • Develop a formal structure to prepare faculty nominations for national awards and recognitions, i.e. National Academies of Sciences
  • Adopt technologies and staff support that increase the external profile of the campus’ scholarly and creative activities
  • Cultivate a staff culture of thought-leadership in functional roles, including specific contributions to the research enterprise
  • Nominate staff for national professional development programs and opportunities
  • Increase the utilization of open-access scholarship to promote research dissemination
  • Build institutional capacity to enable faculty and staff to host conferences at regional, national, and international levels in areas identified as strategically important.

Measure 1.2.1: Total research and development expenditures*

Current Value AY 2024-25 AY 2027-28 AY 2030-31
$45 million $70 million $85 million $100 million

 

Measure 1.2.2: Percentage of doctoral students supported by Graduate Student Research (GSR) appointments and external fellowships,3 disaggregated*

Current Value AY 2024-25 AY 2027-28 AY 2030-31
23% 27% 30% 33%

 

Measure 1.2.3: Expenditures on Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) and training grants (i.e. NRT)*

Targets: Increase expenditures; develop capacity to measure.

Example Strategic Initiatives:

  • Expand programs (e.g. mentoring, workshops, and pre-submission review) and pre-award services (e.g. grant writing, editing, institutional data gathering, graphics assistance, etc.) to support success in extramural funding, including for fellowships and REU and training grants
  • Develop administrative capacity to support large-scale grants
  • Streamline grants and contracts workflow to industry standards and prioritize the integration of technologies to ensure post-award financial management, including up-to-date expenditure accounting and timely, correct invoicing
  • Expand the number and use of research centers and organized research units (ORUs) to support interdisciplinary scholarship and creative activity
  • Develop donor base in support of research priorities identified through academic planning
  • Establish budget mechanisms that increase revenue streams to departments in support of research and graduate programs
  • Strengthen school-based administrative support for the teaching, research, and service mission

Measure 1.3.1: Ratio of research/technical support staff with a doctorate to faculty member4*

Current Value AY 2024-25 AY 2027-28 AY 2030-31
0.17 0.19 0.27 0.36

 

Measure 1.3.2: Doctoral degrees conferred, disaggregated to track parity*

Current Value AY 2024-25 AY 2027-28 AY 2030-31
63 80 80 150

 

Measure 1.3.3: The percentage of graduating seniors who report conducting research with a faculty member as an undergraduate at UC Merced, disaggregated to track parity (Graduating Senior Survey)*

Current Value AY 2024-25 AY 2027-28 AY 2030-31
33% 36% 38% 40%

 

Example Strategic Initiatives:

  • Increase the number of grants that fund research/technical staff with doctorates
  • Expand undergraduate research opportunities, including donor support for increased student participation and data infrastructure to track post-baccalaureate outcomes
  • Expand non-traditional, research-related opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students (e.g. applied research, support for CORE facilities)
  • Increase the number of doctoral students advised per faculty member, while decreasing time to degree
  • Simplify the processes by which research staff, graduate student researchers, and teaching assistants are appointed

Footnotes:

1 For Goals 1 and 2 an asterisk (*) next to a measure indicates the measure was adopted from academic planning, specifically the measures established by the Academic Planning Work Group.

2 For this and other measures specifying disaggregation, data will be disaggregated per the footnote associated with Measure 3.1.1.

3 E.g. NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

4 Includes post-docs and non-faculty research staff with a Ph.D.

5 The current (Fiscal Year, FY 2020/21) undergraduate student to faculty ratio is lower than the FY 30/31 goal as a result of two factors. First, the campus hired a large number of new faculty, including an atypical number of spousal hires, in fall 2020 which resulted in a net increase of 36 Senate faculty. Second, the campus missed its Fall 2020 student enrollment targets, in part due to the COVID pandemic. The combination caused the ratio to fall sharply. For comparison, the FY 2019 ratio was 29.7 (8151/274). The 2030 target brings the ratio back to the average of our UC peers (27.7).

6 The National Survey of Student Experience (NSSE) gathers data on student participation in the following HIPS: service learning, learning community, research with faculty, internship/field experience, study abroad, culminating senior experience.

7 The percentage of students starting a PhD that complete them within seven years; calculated using projected growth in the number of graduate students advised per a faculty member.

8 For all Goal 3 objectives, Appendix II provides a set of supplemental measures that are essential to understanding progress on these primary measures and which the campus must develop the capacity to measure.

9 The University of California Board of Regents Policy 4400: Policy on University of California Diversity Statement states: “Diversity – a defining feature of California’s past, present, and future – refers to the variety of personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and geographic region, and more.” As UC Merced’s data capacity grows, we anticipate data disaggregation by these lived experiences and social identities to assess our progress with integrity. See the full statement here.

10 Will support Goal 3 objectives 3.1 through 3.3.