Campus Celebrates Expanded Epstein Family Veterans Center
By Eric Breier
It was a long summer for Cal State San Marcos’ Veterans Services team. The group endured three moves around campus while the newly expanded and renovated Epstein Family Veterans Center was being completed.
But it was well worth the wait.
Students, faculty, staff and community members celebrated the grand opening of the Epstein Family Veterans Center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 10.
“The expansion and renovation of the Epstein Family Veterans Center are important signs of our university’s ongoing commitment to our student veterans and their families,” CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt told attendees. “All of us at CSUSM take great pride in supporting those who have served our country.”
The expansion and renovation was made possible thanks to a $1 million gift from the Epstein Family Foundation in 2017. It was the most significant gift in support of CSUSM’s student veterans since the donation of the center building in 2014. The Epsteins’ gift provided funds for the physical expansion of the existing center while also providing an endowment to fund critical programs to support veterans and their families.
“The Epsteins’ philanthropy and their commitment to our student veterans and their families is having a vital impact throughout our region, and I am grateful for their continued support,” Neufeldt said.
The expanded building was constructed off site in Riverside County and delivered to campus in May. The Veteran Services staff moved into the renovated center on Sept. 24.
The expansion created a larger lounge for students, computer lab and reception areas, and four additional offices.
“I am proud to be associated with a university and a community where dedication to our nation’s military is so integral to the mission,” said Tony Jackson, CSUSM’s Foundation Board chair and a retired Marine Corps major general.
In addition to the gift from the Epsteins, other key contributors to the project included: CSUSM’s Office of Planning, Design and Construction, which designed the expansion and oversaw the project; Silver Creek Industries, which customized the building to ensure that it best serves the needs of student veterans; general engineering contractor DMI, which spent countless hours on the foundational work; and the Veteran Services team.
Dan Epstein, Rep. Mike Levin of California’s 49th congressional district and San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones also spoke at the ceremony.
Ryan Dokich, a business administration student and Marine Corps veteran, was the emcee for the event and detailed how meaningful it was for him to have a dedicated space and support for student veterans. It was particularly impactful for Dokich as he battled lymphoma during his first semester on campus.
“For me, the Epstein Family Veterans Center served as a sanctuary,” Dokich said. “It was a place where I could quietly study away from the distractions. I always felt comfortable here because my fellow student veterans truly understand working through adversity. Having that space helped me succeed despite the difficulties I was facing.
“I am incredibly grateful for the center and all of the services provided to student veterans. Seeing this space expanded and renovated means it will be able to help so many other student veterans and their families. I am thankful for the Epstein family’s remarkable generosity and enduring commitment to supporting the veteran community.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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