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CSUSB Palm Desert secures $79M for new student center building in state budget

Palm Desert is one step closer to having the valley's first stand alone college campus.

California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus is expected to be awarded $79 million in the state's budget plan – the full amount requested to build a new student center building which would expand programs and resources.

Jason Davalos, a rising CSUSB Palm Desert sophomore studying pre-nursing, said the allocation is great news and the next step in a long-awaited expansion.

"I think this is a huge investment for us students," Davalos said. "There's definitely some sacrifices that we have to make by attending this campus. It does feel like a commuter campus at points."

Joe Wallace, CEO and chief innovation officer for the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, said the new center adds another piece of the puzzle toward a full, standalone CSU campus.

"This campus gives us the opportunity to prove the worthiness of our region," Wallace said. "I can't find anywhere in the United States with the population of the Coachella Valley that doesn't have a full standalone state university – this is the next step to us being that."

Wallace added the economic impact could be one of the biggest ever seen in the Coachella Valley.

He calculates as much as $35,000 would be generated per student, per year. That's $140 million being spent in the valley annually.

School officials said the 23,700 square-foot Student Center Building will include an advising/tutoring center, career center, expanded campus library, group study space, a cross-cultural center, campus bookstore, food services, a student health center, and a recreation and wellness center.

"With the campus seeing a significant increase in student enrollment, this investment of $79 million to fund a student center as part of the efforts to expand the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus is the next step in creating a more commutable and inviting campus for those in the region."

- CSUSB news release

The building will provide enhanced student services and support. It will also help the campus continue serving local underrepresented and first-generation students, school officials added.

The building will be able to accommodate up to 4,000 students and is designed for maximal flexibility as the campus continues to grow. It will also help vacate space at the existing buildings on campus, which officials said will be repurposed to expand academic programs, including faculty office and classroom space.

“This is a big day for the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus and the Coachella Valley community!” said Tomás D. Morales, President of CSUSB. “The new Student Center Building will be life changing for students at the campus by providing increased access to critical services our students deserve. It will help expand higher education opportunities in the Coachella Valley and we are grateful to everyone who helped make this dream a reality.” 

School officials credited the efforts of State Assembly members Chad Mayes, I-Rancho Mirage, and Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, to secure funds.

"Mayes, Garcia and members of the Coachella Valley community have worked tirelessly for years to secure funds to expand the campus to meet the demands of current and future students," reads a news release from CSUSB.

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Jake Ingrassia

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