Conceived by noted American sculptor Aris Demetrios, "Beginnings" consists of two gently curving, vertical stainless-steel arms, each about 40 feet high, rising from a large circular base. The enfolding arms are intended to be a metaphor for the embrace of a caring university that values its students and its community and the germination of a seed representing the growth and ever-increasing potential of UC Merced. The burnished stainless-steel sculpture is located at the open end of the quad in the academic core of campus, facing the city of Merced. Demetrios, a renowned contemporary sculptor whose large-scale works can be seen throughout the world, proposed the design after visiting the campus and learning about its mission. Former Acting Chancellor Rod Park and his wife, Cathy, were the primary donors and visionaries for the project. Generous donations from the artist, Bob and Marie Gallo family and John, Joseph and Fred T. Franzia of Bronco Winery made the work possible.