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SDSU president projects Brawley campus could be ‘operating' by fall 2003

February 23, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — San Diego State University President Stephen Weber said a Brawley campus should be "up and operating" in fall 2003 or spring 2004.

The first campus will most likely consist of portable classrooms and a central office building, he said.

As enrollment grows, the university will start building permanent structures and then add onto those structures.

Beyond that?

"Where it's going to go is hard to say," he said.

San Diego State University's campus overlooking Mission Valley will never be completed, he noted.

In addition to talking about the Brawley campus, Weber sat down Friday to discuss the upcoming budget crunch, the university's international business programs and the importance of the Calexico campus. Later in the evening he drove to Holtville for a university fund-raising event.

Taking questions about the Brawley project first, Weber said, "We're working on all of the things you have to do to make a campus happen."

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One of those things is negotiating for the land.

In September 2001, the California State University Board of Trustees agreed to accept 200 acres of land from Alamitos Land Co.

The paperwork associated with that transfer is almost complete, according to SDSU-IV campus Dean Khosrow Fatemi.

Once it is, 200 acres one mile east of Brawley along Highway 78 will have to be readied for students.

The money to pay for infrastructure, landscaping and the rental of portable classrooms will come from one account that will be split by the Calexico campus and the Brawley campus, Weber said.

Earlier Friday, Weber discussed that budget split and next year's budget with Calexico's faculty and staff.

In the upcoming fiscal year, the California State University board will allow SDSU to increase enrollment by 3 percent, he told them.

Since SDSU's seven campuses receive money based on the number of students served, how that enrollment is divvied up among the campuses is concern No. 1.

It's also Provost Nancy Marlin's job.

Weber said Marlin will field requests from all of the deans, including Fatemi, who want a piece of the budget pie for expansion.

Weber already knows that Fatemi would like to continue growing enrollment at the Calexico campus.

He said the campus can make "a good cause" for that growth due to its role in the community instructing future teachers.

Weber also pointed out the small college-going population of the Valley as a whole.

"The need is quite clear," he said.

On that note, the Valley's low rate of college-bound students is one of the reasons Weber is excited about the prospects for the Brawley campus.

"Beyond the community college there is very little available (for North County students)," he said.

Weber is grateful for the support of Brawley community members who have helped to "bring this project to fruition."

He credited Fatemi with developing the initial relationship that helped SDSU secure the Brawley land.

In the coming years, Fatemi and others will have to work just as hard to make even more relationships with deep-pocket donors.

Weber said that if enrollment numbers at the Brawley campus justify the construction of permanent structures, the university would have to "develop" the capital to fund that construction.

Asked how the money would be developed, Weber said, "You raise that money."

Sources he mentioned include private donations and public funding.

"Funding has to be pieced together," he noted.

As for the specific number of students who might attend the campus, Weber said, "We're at an interesting point.

"Now the question will be, ‘Who is going to show up?' We're about to learn that part of the equation," he said.

At the scholarship dinner, Weber planned to talk about the achievements of SDSU and the Calexico campus specifically.

He is proud of recent laurels that have been bestowed on SDSU's study abroad and international business programs.

He considers the Calexico campus a key component of the university's future success in developing international programs.

"The Calexico campus has an unusual advantage. It's located across from a Mexican state capital; along a large, complex, vibrant border," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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