Hats off to pioneer UC Merced class

For those who supported the establishment of the University of California at Merced, Saturday's commencement ceremony was a landmark event for a campus that many of the state's most powerful politicians didn't want to build. But UC Merced supporters overcame the resistance and the campus finally opened in 2005.

Even though first lady Michelle Obama grabbed much of the attention, Saturday's ceremony was about the 500-plus graduates. They and their families are to be commended for taking a chance on a new university, and then following through by finishing their rigorous course work amid the campus's growing pains.

The pioneer class not only had to attend to their academic responsibilities, but also create a campus environment. And thanks in part to their efforts, this 10th UC campus has been embraced by the San Joaquin Valley, and it holds great promise for the region.

Future UC Merced students will thank members of the Class of 2009 for the role they played in establishing this university. We thank them, too.