Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez discusses university growth, successes at fall address

Imran Majid

Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez delivered his fall address Thursday morning, highlighting university advances and achievements.

Gonzalez made several new announcements, including potential expansions of the WELL and University Union and the creation of the Office of Analytics and Institutional Effectiveness.

Gonzalez said he met with the University Union Board of Directors earlier this year to discuss further development of the WELL and the Union, as the lack of space for students was apparent.

“If we are to grow our student body, even modestly, overcrowding at our two most popular student facilities must be alleviated,” Gonzalez said.

The project would require a permanent increase in the University Union fee from $209.50 to $459.50 to pay for construction and maintenance, and would be effective spring 2014.

The expansion would include additional meeting space and services in the Union. It may also be used to facilitate impacted programs at the WELL.

“Students were outgrowing the Union,” said Director of News Services Kim Nava. “There was a lot of demand and (students) wanted something more.”

The project’s largest component is a 5,000 to 6,000 seat student event center which would serve as a venue for major events such as concerts and commencement, as well as student recreational use.

Nava said students approved a referendum to fund a recreation, wellness and events center in spring 2004, but after construction began the events center did not seem feasible.

Gonzalez and the University Union Board of Directors will be hosting two town hall meetings Sept. 5 and 10 at noon in Hinde Auditorium to discuss the project.

“We serve a different type of student that’s just as important as anyone else in this country, if not more important,” Gonzalez said. “So what we need to do is figure out how we are going to serve (the student) the best way we can.”

Gonzalez also announced the new department will boost the school’s ability to plan for the future and make thoughtful, data-driven decisions.

“Universities are places that are overflowing with potential data, but the big challenge is making sense of it all,” Gonzalez said. “(The Office of Analytics) will tap into overlooked sources of data, gather new data where appropriate and present it in an accessible form.”

Instead of discussing budget and enrollment cuts as in previous years, Gonzalez said both areas actually grew – an 8 percent increase in the budget and 1.2 percent increase in full-time students – as a result of the passage of Proposition 30.

“Today’s public is much more aware of its investment in public education, and it is clear that the changes we are experiencing are just the beginning,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said this semester’s incoming class of freshman and transfer students is the largest in the history of Sacramento State. Approximately 8,000 new students and 25 tenure-track faculty members have joined the Sacramento State population, a sign the school is “moving in the right direction again.”

Associated Students Inc. President Nielsen Gabriel said the speech was a nice change of pace from previous years, in which Gonzalez centered on budget cuts and deficits.

“He always highlights the different achievements from every college and university, which I find to be very uplifting,” Gabriel said. “It gives me a sense of Sacramento State pride and that’s what every student should have.”