Cal State Fullerton has finally updated its campus master plan after 17 years.
“This master plan is the culmination of years of effort that involves a significant public input across our campus and community and brought thousands of Titans and folks all over Orange County to the table,” said CSUF president Fram Virjee in a presentation to the California State University Board of Trustees.
The proposal was passed unanimously by the board’s Committee of Campus Planning, Buildings and Grounds during a virtual meeting on Tuesday. The university typically revises its master plan every 10 years, and since it had not been done since 2003, Virjee said that it would be an understatement to say CSUF’s master plan was overdue.
Issues brought forth by students, faculty and administrators detailed a lack of housing, lack of student amenities, quality of the environment and obsolete buildings among other things.
The plan aims to shift the campus from that of commuter to residential over the next 20 years, increasing amenities and a greater diversity of transportation options in order to encourage students to stay on campus longer, as laid out by the physical master plan.
The shift in perspective would mean that the expansion of parking structures would be significantly delayed, which would allow for academic developments to be the focus of construction projects.
“We must modernize Cal State Fullerton if we hope to continue to serve our students safely and effectively,” Virjee said. “Our unwavering purpose during this process of doing our master plan is flexibility, student-centered envisioning documents that ensure integrity, continuity and proper allocation of resources in both building and refurbishing over time.”
As the student population continues to grow at the university, the plan calls for an additional 2,400 beds for student housing and 350 units for faculty. It emphasizes the need to increase graduation rates and decrease retention by removing commuting barriers, provide more flexibility for faculty and “creating an environment for extended hours of learning and participation.”
In alignment with a recently released enrollment demand, capacity assessment and cost analysis, the CSUF enrollment ceiling was also increased from 25,000 to 32,000 full-time equivalent, said Elvyra San Juan, assistant vice chancellor in the business and finance leadership department of the CSU.
According to the plan, funding availability continues to remain unknown, which would limit and delay the construction and implementation of improvements. However, it is estimated that all academic programs will be funded by the state, while remaining projects will be funded by other sources such as donors coupled with student fees.
Needed funding could amass to be over $1 billion in non-state funding in one area of projects, which does not take into account the other proposals laid out by the master plan.
Many members of the CSUF community used their time during public comments to vocalize their support of the plan, one of whom was Marcus Reveles, the Associated Students president.
“As a student leader, I am most excited for increasing the residential options on campus to better support students, accommodating program growth and change by increasing the density of academic spaces that are cross-disciplinary,” he said.
Reveles added that the preservation of the university’s arboretum, which the plan thoroughly advocates for, was essential for well-being, greenspace, as well as for the various research projects conducted by students and faculty from different disciplines.
Fran Colwell, president of the Friends of the Fullerton Arboretum, said that the non-profit organization had worked alongside the university to compose the plan and went on to thank Virjee, as well as staff, for their collaboration.
He added that the organization had been a source for scholarships and volunteer hours for CSUF students, in addition to their continuous support of research and sustainability projects.
“We are proud of the world-class accreditation boasted by the arboretum that the plan maintained,” Colwell said. “The friends now look forward to future decades of partnership success and strongly support this campus master plan.”
On behalf of the City of Fullerton, which also contributed to the proposal, Matt Foulkes, the community and economic development director, attended the meeting to show his support.
He reminded the board that being the only CSU in Orange County, CSUF contributed over $2.6 billion dollars to the region and is the city’s largest employer.
“The improvement and expansion of the campus as proposed in the master plan represents an exciting future, continued mutual growth and collaboration and success between Cal State Fullerton and the city,” Foulkes said.
Larry L. Adamson, a member of the board’s Campus Plannings, Buildings, Grounds Committee, said that it was rare for a master plan to not have critics and continued to praise Virjee and his staff members.
“This plan addressed every critical element that the community and surrounding communities had and raised and I will tell you that you brought it to us with incredible support from all the constituents on this project,” Adamson said.
He said that while the proposal was aggressive and doubted that every element would come to fruition given the cost, it was still an incredible plan.
Virjee said the university understood that it would not receive funding for a lot of new buildings, thus the task force wanted to create a master plan that while aspirational, would be practical, achievable and flexible.
“Our attention is to take what we have and make it better so as to not only support our strategic plan and our academic master plan, but our graduation initiative 2025 and achieve our goals to be a national model of inclusive excellence,” Virjee said.