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External Relations raises funds and develops partnerships to support faculty, students and programs, and builds relationships that advance the mission of UC Merced with government, community, business, industry and opinion leaders, through strategic communications, public outreach and visibility strategies. External Relations supports the work of the UC Merced Foundation, a volunteer fundraising board that helps promote and increase private philanthropic support, advocates for the university and manages a portion of the university's endowment.

The division comprises several departments: Alumni Relations, Arts, Government and Community Relations, Marketing, Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships, Protocol and Special Events, and Public Relations.