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Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg wield scissors (center) for the ribbon-cutting at Sac State Downtown's grand opening. Photo by Jessica Vernone
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Sac State Stakes New Claim as a Player in the Capital


Dixie Reid

"An anchor university is the opposite of an ivory tower and is driven to improve the community in which it lives." - President Robert S. Nelsen


Near the state Capitol and Sacramento City Hall, it is bustling with academic activity. Among current offerings:

  • Classes for the Public Policy and Administration master’s program.
  • Degree-completion and certificate programs for mid-career professionals and working-age adults, through the College of Continuing Education.
  • A doctorate in Educational Leadership research-methods class.
  • Dietetic internship classes offered by the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences.
  • Consulting services for public agencies and nonprofit organizations, provided by the Institute for Social Research.

Herky had classes back on campus, so the University mascot couldn’t attend.

But Sacramento State Downtown’s grand opening nonetheless drew a who’s who of government, business, education and social leaders celebrating the University’s official arrival in the central city, further cementing its position as a vital partner in California’s capital.

That late-summer ceremony announced Sac State’s intention to be further woven into the educational, business, governmental and social fabric of the city and region. It did so with fanfare, music and the confident, hopeful words of leaders who expressed their belief in the importance of Sac State Downtown and all that will be happening in the building at 304 S St. and beyond.

 “Today is a historic day for Sacramento State,” President Robert S. Nelsen said during the Aug. 28 ceremony attended by about 250 people. During his Fall 2018 address, Nelsen had announced his intention for Sac State to strengthen its role as “the anchor institution” for the Sacramento region. At the grand opening, he said the University’s enhanced presence downtown “validates Sacramento State as California’s capital university and ensures our place as Sacramento’s university, its anchor university.”

“An anchor university,” he said, “is the opposite of an ivory tower and is driven to improve the community in which it lives. It aims to connect its students, faculty, and staff with the community and, in turn, help build and often heal that community, achieving long-term solutions and improvements.” 

Mayor Darrell Steinberg was among guests offering good wishes and applauding Sacramento State’s role downtown. He talked of government and private industry joining to better serve the region and provide opportunities for its citizens, fulfilling the dream of creating a modern, cosmopolitan economy, and making sure that growth focuses on people previously left out and left behind.

“I say, in a year, when we’ve demonstrated the incredible success and the number of people who have benefited because of Sac State Downtown’s presence, let’s have another ribbon-cutting,” Steinberg said.

Speakers included Sacramento State then-Provost Ching-Hua Wang; California State University (CSU) Trustee Jack McGrory; Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council; and Stacey Shelnut-Hendrick, director of education at the Crocker Art Museum. 

Glenda Corcoran, district director for Congresswoman Doris Matsui and a Sac State alumna, presented Nelsen with an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.

To its current classes and other offerings, Sac State Downtown will add programs in innovation, entrepreneurship and consulting in the arts and humanities (College of Arts and Letters), a bachelor’s degree program in hospitality and tourism management (College of Health and Human Services), and programs in geographic information systems, urban visualization, and big-data analytics (College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics).


“The future of Sac State Downtown is the future of Sacramento and the surrounding region,” said Sheree Meyer, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, after the grand opening.

“We can engage even more fully in meeting Sacramento’s multifaceted needs.”

The existence of Sac State Downtown will allow faculty and others “to work across campus divisions and departments to contribute to innovation and economic development, address social and political problems … and better address our students’ preparation for entering a complex and dynamic work environment,” Meyer said.


Dixie Reid


Dixie Reid has been a writer for Sac State since 2012 after decades as a newspaper reporter. A Texas native with the accent to prove it, Dixie is crazy about “dear friends, big dogs, good books, great food, day trips, baking cookies, California sunshine (and fog), and kind people.”