l Capital University Journal
State in for‘ extreme makeover’
State spent decades debating whether to become a residential campus—one
where students both study and live at the University.
Three on-campus residence halls were built in the 1950s, but later housing
efforts stalled. Many students of that era seemed to prefer living off-campus
and commuting, and today there are just five halls for 1,100 students.
That’s about to change.
After just a few months on the job last year, Sac State President Alexander
Gonzalez had made a decision to end the debate. Predicting that more students
living on campus would bring new energy and enthusiasm to the campus,
he approved a plan to tear down the old halls and replace them with apartments
for as many as 5,000 students.
“We’ll continue to put students
first. The students who come here work hard and dream big…”
should be and will be, Gonzalez has repeatedly said, “a destination
campus for the West and a flagship of the California State University
vision of a residential campus is at the heart of the University’s
“Destination 2010” initiative—an ambitious plan to re-make
the campus in just a few years while expanding opportunity with new scholarships.
The plans were enthusiastically endorsed by the CSU Board of Trustees
in the spring.
Gonzalez says Sac State, already a great regional university, is poised
to become much more.
“I’ve talked with groups all over campus and in the community,”
Gonzalez says. “And I’ve learned that people really care about
this University, and they have a strong desire to help it live up to its
Gonzalez thinks the energy of campus life is a key missing piece. When
combined with Sac State’s strong academic programs and commitment
to great teaching, his thinking is that a vibrant campus life will help
attract student interest from top students locally and throughout the
West, boosting the University’s reputation. Additional community
and donor support will follow, as more people become committed to Sac
State’s potential. One success will lead to other successes…
Many of the plans are already moving forward.
Developers have presented proposals for on-campus housing this fall, and
the first new residence hall could open by 2007. Combined with new housing
being built nearby and existing apartments, 10,000 students will eventually
be walking to class.
And campus life will get an additional boost from a planned 236,000 square-foot
Recreation Wellness and Events Center.
Gonzalez told student leaders this year he would work to raise private
support for the center as long as the student body as a whole supported
it. The proposal, which in other variations had failed in student elections,
was approved by more than 55 percent. Gonzalez is now committed to raising
$25 million for the project, and students will eventually pay a fee to
The recreation center promises to be a signature facility, with students
able to exercise, go to concerts, attend athletic events and more at one
exciting facility. Located on the north side of Hornet Stadium, it will
include such things as a new student health center, fitness center, swimming
pool, athletic courts, a bowling center, fitness classrooms, a childcare
center, a conference center and an 8,000-seat arena for events such as
commencement and intercollegiate athletics.
And the perennial parking problem may be solved over the next few years
as well. Not only will an increasing number of students be walking to
class, but a new 3,200-space parking
garage will soon be under construction near Hornet Stadium. It will be
the largest in the CSU, and is scheduled to double in size with a future
Other facilities in the works include new academic buildings as tall as
eight stories, a Performing Arts Center near Highway 50, an expansive
University Park through the center of campus where old and inefficient
buildings now stand, a new bookstore and expanded food services. There’s
also a Space Science Center and a building for the College of Business
Administration’s MBA program, both of which will require significant
More, including a video presentation: www.csus.edu/news/012804masterPlan.stm
Sac State’s 300-acre campus on J Street isn’t the only piece
of land getting the attention of University planners.
There’s also 280 acres near Roseville where a new Sac State Placer
Campus is in the works. That dream came closer to reality in May when the
University and Placer Ranch signed a formal agreement for a gift of land
to build the campus.
“At Sacramento State, we’ve always seen ourselves as embracing
the whole region. With this campus, that will be more literally true,”
Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez said. “A quarter-century from
now, the people of Placer County will look back on this as a momentous agreement.”
Gonzalez said the campus might eventually grow into a separate California
The gift of land is at the originally proposed site that was announced in
2003. It’s near the juncture of Fiddyment Road and Sunset Blvd. West
in South Placer County, in the proposed 2,200-acre development called Placer
Ranch that’s owned by venture philanthropist Eli Broad.
Groundbreaking could be as early as 2006.
The Capital Region, with about 2 million people, only has two comprehensive
four-year universities (Sac State and UC Davis). That’s far fewer
than many regions of similar size. And the population growth trends in the
Roseville area clearly justify a Sac State presence.
But while it seems good in the abstract, the Placer Campus faces many practical
hurdles. It would need voter-approved bond funding and most likely some
private support for construction.
The state would have to commit to funding its operations, and Placer officials
are still debating how the campus could fit into the area’s growth
In the meantime, initial planning continues.
Designers are working on proposals for what the campus might look like.
And on the academic side, Sac State faculty and Placer leaders are working
out preliminary plans for the curriculum. One thing that’s clear is
there will be an emphasis on high-demand areas like technology, business
and teacher education.