Merced College honors Ben and RoseMary Parga Duran



Celebrating continued growth and work in the community, as well as honoring two local education leaders, the Merced College Foundation held its 10th annual State of the College address and luncheon on April 25 at the Business Resource Center in downtown Merced.

Hundreds of notable dignitaries, business owners, and politicians gathered to hear about developments at Merced College, as well as celebrate the recipients of this year’s President’s Medallion Award: Ben and RoseMary Parga Duran.

“This honor, from my perspective, is a recognition of the many others who worked side-by-side with me over all those years to make Merced College and the region better,” Ben Duran told the audience.

Duran served as Merced College president from 1998 to 2012. His work for Merced College is remembered for his great advocacy in workforce and economic development. Today, Dr. Duran is executive director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium. His wife, RoseMary led the Merced City School District as superintendent for more than a decade. She is well-known and respected in the community for her efforts to improve the classroom environment for young students, as well as providing more educational opportunities for local families.

As a special surprise, Merced College also renamed the college’s Business Resource Center in honor of Ben Duran, and revealed the new signage at the event.

“The existence of the Business Resource Center is a testament to the importance of community colleges not only to students, but to the business community. We were able to elevate the interactions between businesses and the college to the point where it truly became a partnership.”

As a boost to the celebration, the Duran family reportedly made a “substantial” gift to Merced College in support of local college students who are experiencing social and economic challenges.

The event also featured the annual State of the College address presented by Merced College President Chris Vitelli.

Vitelli highlighted the new state-of-the-art VR class offering coming this fall semester for students on campus, as well as expansion projects going on at the Los Banos campus, and new investment in the overall nursing program to certify more health care professionals in the region.



MercedMerced Community CollegeMerced County
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