Our recent commencement weekend was one of pride and celebration and a special opportunity to show the beauty of our campus to the families and friends of our graduates. Our facilities, custodial and landscaping staff do a great job in showcasing the campus and deserve our thanks.
In its grandeur, our campus is a powerful symbol of our commitment to academic excellence and achievement, and this year was a historic one in the life of our physical campus. We completed construction on the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union and the newly renovated Storm-Nasatir-Hostler Hall complex. Two of the largest buildings on our campus, these campus icons are centers of student life and academic programs.
This summer, we write another chapter. We are beginning a top-to-bottom renovation of Zura residence hall, breaking ground on our new Basketball Performance Center with its basketball practice courts and facilities and renovating our College of Business Administration with the addition of the Page Pavilion. We also will be continuing the work on our heating and electrical systems and the painting and refurbishment of many campus buildings that began last summer.
Two important developments related to campus facilities occurred at the recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of the California State University. First, the board approved the design for our new mixed use development on College Avenue, just south of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.
Featuring an urban greenscape and two six-story buildings, the complex will house over 600 students and provide retail opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and the local community. The development also will provide much-needed short-term parking for campus visitors. All of these features will be a significant step forward for our campus and our community.
Second, the board reviewed Governor Brown’s legislative proposal to shift the responsibility for facilities debt service from the state to the California State University, and CSU Chancellor Tim White voiced his public support for this proposal. Even though the proposal may not pass this year, the landmark change in California’s financing of campus facilities has already been adopted by the University of California and is likely to pass in the near future.
While this change has raised concerns, it also creates possibilities and, for San Diego State, possibilities have always been more important than concerns. One of the most important aspects of the legislation is that it would allow our university the flexibility to use operating funds to construct campus buildings.
This changes everything.
By combining operating, philanthropic and state funds, we could move from a passive approach of waiting for facilities allocations from the state to a proactive approach of creating funding models that allow us to pursue our academic priorities. The new engineering and interdisciplinary sciences building that we have dreamed about for many years could move from dream to reality as fast as we could make it happen.
The landscape for public higher education in California continues to be a rapidly changing one. Yet, within this turbulent environment, there are profound opportunities for building the future. Let’s take them!