Alex Gutierrez, a senior business major who will graduate in June and who is the current Associate Students Inc. president, reflected on his years at Cal State San Bernardino, grateful for all the experiences he’s had at the university. Yet there was one thing he said he would regret.
“I won’t have the opportunity to live and enjoy this new student housing community,” he told a crowd of CSUSB students, faculty, administrators and staff, who gathered on a sunny and warm fall morning to celebrate the formal groundbreaking for the university’s new student housing and dining commons.
“But that’s OK,” Gutierrez said. “Future generations of students will have the opportunity and chance, and their lives will be forever enriched by this experience.”
Located at the east end of campus, near the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, the project is the largest single capital project in university history, costing $95.8 million and encompassing 164,000 square feet, university President Tomás D. Morales said.
“By expanding on-campus student housing, we encourage a more active and dynamic atmosphere as we move to become more of a residential community,” he said. “We strengthen the collegiate experience while improving student recruitment and retention.”
And as part of the campus master plan, he said, “This is the beginning of a journey to ultimately build housing for 5,000 students. And we believe we’ll get there.”
Also joining the university community to celebrate on Thursday, Sept. 29, were local elected officials and their representatives, and California State University Trustee Jane Carney.
State Sen. Jeff Stone, whose 28th Senate District includes the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, presented a proclamation from the state Legislature to Morales and the university. Noting that CSUSB has an enrollment of about 20,000 students, he called it “a tremendous asset in the Inland Empire.”
The new student housing and dining commons will help enhance the university’s role, other speakers said, providing students a living and learning environment that will help them to succeed academically.
“Students are not required to live on campus, they choose to live here,” said John Yuan, executive director of Housing and Residential Education. “So how can we provide a living and learning experience that makes a difference, is impactful, increases retention, increases knowledge of diversity and sustainability, and truly prepares them not only to be successful in college, but successful in their post-college experience. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
It’s something that one student, Alissa Lopez, said has happened in her life. A third-year math major and campus resident, she said living on campus provides opportunities for jobs and also leadership experience. Last year, Lopez was encouraged by her resident assistant to step out and become involved in her village council. A year later, she is the president of the Residence Hall Association.
She recalled a quote that seemed to sum up her experience. “‘The friends that you meet in college are going to be you be your lifelong friends,’” Lopez said. “So I hope that all the incoming freshmen will realize that housing isn’t just living here. It’s the family that comes along with it.”
The symbolic turning of soil at the conclusion of the ceremony was just the beginning for the project that has a target completion in time for the 2018 fall quarter. On the actual construction site itself, fenced off from the rest of the campus on what was one parking Lot E, a bulldozer did preparation work before the 9 a.m. ceremony started.
“With any capital project of this magnitude, it is incredibly exciting for our project team to be at the milestone of groundbreaking,” said Douglas Freer, CSUSB vice president of Administration and Finance. “Today is the culmination of two years of unbelievably hard work that required so much dedication, patience and daily attention.”
He continued: “What we will do together here will, no doubt, transform the student experience for Cal State San Bernardino. It also will no doubt serve as a very attractive option for prospective students as they give our wonderful university their full consideration.”
With 416 beds, the student housing development is the initial phase of a larger community that will be developed at CSUSB as enrollment grows. This residential community will eventually serve about 1,200 more students.
This phase will be targeted to meet the needs of entering first-year students and will be the first new housing community specifically designed to serve their needs since Serrano Village opened in 1972.
In addition to the new housing units for students, the community will have dedicated space for student advising and academic support, the Honors Program, two Faculty-in-Residence apartments, a community kitchen, multipurpose meeting rooms, and will be the administrative home of the university’s Department of Housing and Residential Education.
The new dining commons will be a two-level, multi-faceted campus dining facility. With an expected capacity of nearly 700 customers, the initial seating layout will be approximately 500. Two dining experiences are slated for this location.
The first will offer an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall featuring a range of dining cuisines, including a grill, sandwiches/salads, display cooking, and a number of international choices. Seating will be on multiple levels, including two enclosed outdoor locations, meeting rooms that can be reserved for groups and guests, and a faculty/staff collaboration dining room.
The second venue in the new dining commons will be a cash and carry operation, as well as an enhanced convenience store. Slated to be CSUSB’s first planned late-night dining location, it will offer sandwiches and grill-style cash options all day, providing an exciting place for the campus community to gather into the evening.
As with all campus housing, the project will be funded through the rental rates of students living in the residence halls. No state general fund dollars are committed to this project.
For an electronic design image of the construction project, contact the CSUSB Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CSUSB Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction at (909) 537-5136 with any questions about the construction impacts related to this project.
About California State University, San Bernardino
California State University, San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in Inland Southern California. Opened in 1965 and set at the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, the university serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually. CSUSB reflects the dynamic diversity of the region and has the most diverse student population of any university in the Inland Empire, and it has the second highest African American and Hispanic enrollments of all public universities in California. Eighty percent of those who graduate are the first in their families to do so.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.