The top picture is the new UC Merced campus, and the bottom picture is San Quentin prison in beautiful Marin county. UC Merced has a declining student population due to a number of factors (i.e., limited number of majors, lack of tradition, few students, and nothing to do). San Quentin, on the other hand, boasts a swelling numbers (They are supposed to be limited to 3,317 inmates, but they currently house 5,967), an operating budget of $120 million dollars, and a support staff of over 1500. UC Merced’s budget is roughly $10 million and they have 55 full time faculty members with 15 more added by the end of the year. However, Merced lost a couple of key administrative people and have just announced their replacements. Overall, it’s a rocky start to this newest campus, but it’s a painful reminder that UC could have done things very differently had they given some thought as to what makes for a good college experience.
One consideration is, of course, location. Let’s just say you suddenly have magic wand in your hand and you could flip locations of the UC campus and the prison above. You say in your best Capt. Picard voice “Make it so!” and poof! You have transposed the institutions. How difficult would it be to attract students, faculty, administrators, and staff to this campus if the university was locacted by the water in Marin county? Let’s see what the Magic 8 ball has to say: “Outlook good.”