Grand Opening Captures "The Beat" of the New USU
By Katie Chappell
The CSUSM campus community celebrated the grand opening of its new University Student Union (USU) with two weeks of festivities held April 14-25. The theme of the Grand Opening was "The Beat: See it, Hear it, Feel it," in recognition of the building's invigorating impact on campus life.
Celebrations kicked off with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 15 with special remarks by President Haynes, student leaders Matt Walsh and Domenica Ranieri, Vice President of Student Affairs Lorena Meza and Alumni Association President Dayleen Coleman. Following the ceremony, attendees gathered in the ballroom to sample cuisine from the USU's various eateries and meet the organizations and departments that call the nearly 90,000 sq. ft. building home.
"The USU truly represents the spirit and tenacity of our campus and our ability to get things done for the benefit of our students," said President Haynes in her blog post. "We really do march to our own beat at CSUSM."
The arts were also showcased throughout the weeks. On April 16, local artist Amy Burkman led an interactive art workshop where participants created their own canvas painting. Following the workshop, Burkman performed a speed painting demonstration, painting a CSUSM Cougar in mere minutes. Later that evening the amphitheater filled up for an outdoor showing of the Disney film Frozen. On April 17, USU Unplugged featured live acoustic performances by CSUSM students in the east pavilion near Jazzman's Cafe.
During the second week of celebrations, CSUSM welcomed Dr. Terrence Roberts to speak on his experience as a member of the "Little Rock Nine," a group of high school students who were committed to fighting segregation in the South in the 1950s. At the event, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from CSUSM, presented by CSU Trustee Debra Farar and President Haynes. Read more about this event.
A special sustainability event on April 24 highlighted the unique green features found throughout the four-story building. The USU was built to achieve LEED Gold Certification, a benchmark established by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure the sustainability, efficiency and innovation of high performance buildings. At the event, community representatives from SDG&E were on hand to award the University a $96,000 rebate check for the building's many sustainable features.
A variety of other celebratory events were also held, including Tukwut Nights, a party for students with food, live entertainment, games and giveaways. The Grand Opening celebration concluded with an Alumni Casino Night held in the ballroom.
View the video recap of the events: