Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced College to honor Durans at ‘State of College’

Dr. Ben Duran and Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran.
Dr. Ben Duran and Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran.

Merced College will hold its 10th annual State of the College event Thursday, April 25, at the Merced College Business Resource Center.

The event will feature President Chris Vitelli’s State of the College address, along with the presentation of the President’s Medallion Award — which recognizes the college’s greatest supporters — to Dr. Ben Duran and his wife, former Merced City School District Superintendent Dr. RoseMary Parga Duran.

Tickets and sponsorships are still available and can be purchased online at mercedcollegefoundation.org. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. April 25 and will be held on the top floor of the Business Resource Center parking garage, 1835 M Street, in downtown Merced.

Duran’s 14-year tenure as president at Merced College, from 1998-2012, was notable for the district’s significant enrollment growth as well as new and renovated buildings, including the Business Resource Center and the Los Banos Campus, that were funded by multiple bond measures that passed under his leadership.

The Business Resource Center — which will be renamed the Dr. Benjamin T. Duran Business Resource Center — was established in 2008 to revitalize and enhance relationships between the college and the business community, leading to partnerships that have created countless opportunities for local students and workers to gain valuable skills, knowledge and training to advance their careers.

“The impact Dr. Duran’s tenure at Merced College can be seen and felt all over our district, from our main campus in Merced to the Business Resource Center to the Los Banos Campus,” Vitelli said. “He established a legacy of leadership that is second to none, and we are proud to commemorate his legacy with this honor.”

After being approached by the college regarding the naming of the Business Resource Center, Ben and RoseMary Duran decided to make a substantial gift to Merced College to provide support to students who experience unexpected challenges on their educational pathways to a better life.

The son of migrant farmworkers in Le Grand, Duran built a distinguished life and career devoted to education. He served for nearly 14 years as Merced College’s president before retiring in 2012, and is now executive director of the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC).

“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,” Duran said in December, when the Board of Trustees voted to approve the naming of the building. “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.”

Information about tickets and sponsorships can be found at mercedcollegefoundation.org. Contact Amber Norris at 209-386-6689 or [email protected] for assistance.

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