University Shifts Gears Away from Placer County
Roseville, Calif. – The University Development Foundation and the University of Warwick have announced that the University of Warwick has decided to withdraw from the effort to establish the University of Warwick in California.
The nonprofit University Development Foundation is disappointed with Warwick’s decision, but optimistic about attracting another institution of higher learning to build and operate a new campus on its 600 acres of donated land in Placer County, California.
The University of Warwick stated that, after much careful deliberation, its University Council concluded that what was now being considered had moved too far beyond the original vision of the project in terms of the nature, scale and timescale and that the University could no longer see a model going forward that would lead to the University being able to establish the originally envisioned fully comprehensive, research-led campus.
“The University Development Foundation appreciates the serious effort Warwick made to consider establishing Warwick in California,” said Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, Chairman of the University Development Foundation. “This is a substantial challenge for any academic institution and we understand the University of Warwick must always keep its priorities under review. I have no doubt that the University Development Foundation will find the right match to expand opportunities for higher education in our community.”
“The University of Warwick has met and been impressed by so many enthusiastic and highly committed people who have come together to build on this idea and I want to thank them all for their support and generosity as we have worked together on this vision,” said Professor Stuart Croft, Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Warwick. “We will therefore continue to follow the news from this project with great interest and the University wishes every success to UDF and all the people and organizations that will continue to work to deliver it.”
The University of Warwick’s Council made the decision, noting concerns about the evolving financial framework that would need to be in place to support a research-led comprehensive campus, and some of the regulatory issues that would apply to a non U.S.-based institution wishing to establish itself in California and other global political challenges. The University said it still believes there remains a significant and exciting higher educational opportunity in the region and has offered to provide the University Development Foundation with business planning support for a transitional period.
The University Development Foundation has been working to secure a university undergraduate campus to be located within 1,159 acres in Placer County identified as the Regional University Specific Plan, located just west of Roseville.
The land was donated to the University Development Foundation by the Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos family, William and Claudia Cummings, the Wayne L. Prim family, and more than 40 members of the Placer 2780 partnership.
The University Development Foundation will move forward with the sale of its 559-acre land endowment to create a cash endowment for the future 600-acre undergraduate campus.
The Foundation also plans to complete its purchase of the old firehouse at 401 Oak Street in downtown Roseville, which will provide 40,000 square feet of space that can be ready for educational use in 2018.
“While we have been working closely with the University of Warwick, we have received interest in recent years from other institutions about the undergraduate campus,” Kyriakos Tsakopoulos said. “Our task now is to finish all preparations of the land and 401 Oak Street at the downtown Roseville site so that both are turn-key ready for a higher education institution.”
Local officials said they remain committed to the project.
“Placer County remains fully supportive of the university plan,” said Jennifer Montgomery, Chair of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. “We are hopeful the land and permitting process will move forward soon to make this opportunity as attractive as possible to another university.”
“We are extremely disappointed that our County will not be the U.S. home for the University of Warwick,” said Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt, whose district includes the land for the university. “The County has worked very hard to make this happen and will continue to work with the University Development Foundation on this important effort.”
Roseville Mayor Susan Rohan said, “We appreciate the University of Warwick’s interest and effort in opening here. That effort served as a proof of concept for the possibility of a campus in downtown Roseville. We look forward to having a university establish its initial regional presence in downtown Roseville while a campus is built.”
“While we’re disappointed that the University of Warwick won’t be the university we welcome to Placer County, we realize an effort this big isn’t going to follow a straight path,” said Roseville Councilmember Dr. Tim Herman, Chair of the Regional Higher Education Task Force. “The need is there and we remain committed to bringing a university to our region.”
Bob Holderness, a former Folsom Mayor who first proposed the idea of bringing a university to the region, said the setback should not deter people from pursuing this effort.
“While clearly we wished this had moved forward, we cannot let the setback slow us down,” he said. “This opportunity is a great one for the right university and an important one for our community. Our region needs more higher education options for our young people and, importantly, for our economy.”
Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, urged the community to remain focused on taking advantage of the opportunity for a university.
“The economic impact of a new, private university is in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Broome said. “No one ever thought it would be easy to achieve but we have to keep working to find the right partner and ensure we are shovel-ready to make this a reality.”