Cal State University San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus is ready to grow and according to a new study the plans could boost the desert’s economy.
The ambitious expansion consists of several new buildings on-campus student housing and new sports facilities.
“I think it’s a great idea. Not only for us current students but also for the students that will come in the future,” said CSUSB Palm Desert Campus freshman David Garcia.
Currently there are about 1,400 students enrolled at the Palm Desert Campus. School officials say there could be as many as 8,000 students enrolled at the school by the time the expansion is complete. Local businesses meanwhile are already counting their extra cash.
“A lot more foot traffic is going to increase so, that’s something that we all look forward to. Not only us here at Pueblo Viejo but everybody else here at restaurant row,” said Cesar Cruz, manager at Pueblo Viejo Grill.
School officials say the project is needed to accommodate demand. In the last four years, student registration has increased more than 60 percent.
“This campus is really the only four year university in a 77 mile radius. So for a lot of our Coachella Valley students, this is the only option for a four year degree program,” said CSUSB Palm Desert Campus Dean Sharon Brown-Welty.
In the Coachella Valley where tourism is a large part of the economy, it is no surprise that the hospitality industry in the desert is pushing for more graduates with management experience. The school responded with a hospitality management program.
“In the fall of 2019, we’re going to be beginning that program. And I envision about 100 to 150 new students for that for that program alone. So as we continue to add new programs, we will see enrollment continue to grow here on campus,” said Brown-Welty.
Brown-Welty said completion of the project won’t be for another 15 or 20 years. A drawback for current students.
“Of course we’re not going to get those opportunities maybe, but the campus is growing and also too, this desert is growing. So it kind of goes hand in hand,” said Garcia.
School officials say the expansion could create as many as 2,600 hundred new jobs. But they say the challenge will be filling those jobs with faculty members.