CSUSM Opens New Home for Student Veterans
By Margaret Chantung
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 23, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) officials, students, faculty and staff were joined by community members, elected officials and leadership from Camp Pendleton in a celebration of the grand opening of the University’s new Veterans Center.
The Center was donated by a group of approximately 60 interdisciplinary students at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., who built the structure, formally known as EcoHabit, for the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. After the competition the students opted to donate EcoHabit to CSUSM in support of the University's significant veteran population.
“The thing that struck me about the donation of this center is that it was built as a home,” said California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White. “This Veterans Center is a home. It is a home for all those who know what it is to serve and sacrifice. It is a home for those husbands and wives, sons and daughters who waited for the safe return of their beloved service member. And it is a home for those who know profound loss and bear the scars of war.”
More than 13,000 students in the 23-campus CSU system are currently working toward their mission of earning a degree. Over 1,000 of those are at Cal State San Marcos, the highest per capita of any other California State University.
“Serving our veterans population is an important goal for CSUSM, connecting to our overarching goals of reaching out to educationally-at-risk student populations and being community engaged for the common good,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “We take enormous pride in supporting those who have served our country, and today’s celebration serves as a testament to our strong commitment to facilitating their move from a very tight-knit community in the armed forces to the tight-knit community that exists here at Cal State San Marcos.”
Serving Those Who Served Us
“It is an honor for us at Stevens to be able to place the Ecohabit home on the campus of Cal State San Marcos for returning veterans,” said John Nastasi, Stevens lead faculty for the Solar Decathlon.
The new nearly 1,000-square-foot Center, located adjacent to Markstein Hall, replaces a smaller facility which opened in Craven Hall in 2008. Featuring an office, conference room, kitchen, lounge and event space, the Center is a place where military-affiliated students can receive support in achieving their academic and career goals with services tailored to their unique needs. Staff will assist students navigate the admissions process, access their GI benefits, register for courses, find campus resources and get involved in leadership and social activities. A newly hired Veterans Services director will also coordinate and manage program development and outreach in an effort to create a seamless transition from military to university life and success.
“Today is about keeping our promise,” said Michael Bruno, dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology. “We promised our students that their house would find a home—and that that home would be meaningful, providing a benefit to as many people as possible. And now we are also keeping a promise to our veteran students who need and deserve all of the support that they can get as they make that transition from military service to student success. This house keeps that promise.”
CSUSM Thanks Sponsors
Although the building was donated by the Stevens Institute of Technology, Cal State San Marcos supported the costs of moving the building to campus and installing it on-site, repurposing the interior spaces and furnishing the Center to best support the CSUSM community.
To that end, the University thanks Cox, Jerome’s Furniture, Kimball Office, Mr. and Mrs. Joshua A. Pack, Parron Hall Office Interiors, and The Patriot’s Initiative – a program of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. The University also thanks Wells Fargo for sponsoring the ribbon-cutting ceremony.