New Branch Campus Opens Near Irvine Spectrum

By moving about four miles southwest from a previous military headquarters at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a modern, two-story office building close to the Irvine Spectrum, Cal State Fullerton’s Irvine Campus has made learning more accessible for about 2,600 students primarily from central and south Orange County.

At 3 Banting in Irvine, the new location is a central venue near the intersections of the 405 freeway and the 133 toll road and the 5 freeway at Barranca Parkway, approximately one mile from the Irvine Spectrum.

“The new campus is in the middle of everything,” said Susan Cooper, dean of the Irvine Campus, noting that shops, theaters and apartments are nearby as are transportation hubs like the train station and the bus line. “Its location is very visible, which is important for large and small businesses nearby. And students love it.”

The five-year-old, 70,000-square-foot building was renovated in four months from a bank into a branch campus, Cooper said, in time for spring ’11 semester classes. A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony took place April 28.

Offering 24 smart classrooms, the campus features modern technology such as wireless access, Epson data projectors, Elmo document cameras, and a new Mac classroom.

Professor Chris Kondo, lecturer in marketing and director of CSUF’s Sales Leadership Center, teaches a Principles of Marketing course at the Irvine Campus.

In addition, Marsha Daughetee, assistant dean for student affairs, said that the new campus offers expanded opportunities for student programming, including clubs and organizations and study groups.

“The students appreciate the culture that we’ve built, and they love the new environment,” Daughetee said. “Now we have a place to do things and bigger opportunities to offer the programming we want to have.” Programs ongoing at the campus include a women’s film series, a Legacies program that brings in speakers who have made a change in the world, and a new UNESCO Club.

“We love it here,” said Donna Bennett, a lecturer in elementary and bilingual education. “The technology is spectacular and really addresses the needs of students.”

In addition, the new campus provides numerous amenities, including a larger library, open computer lab, Titan Student Union, fitness center, ATM and bookstore. There are also new vending machines in the kitchenette areas on the first and second floors.

Café Latte at 1 Banting – next door to the campus – sells a wide variety of coffee and specialty drinks, salads and sandwiches. A hot meal is prepared daily.

Business administration majors Nicole Grambo and Raheel Farouk study together in one of several small study areas located throughout the campus.

“I live nearby,” said Aisha Khan, a senior psychology major. “Everything here is so easy. We have financial aid advising so you don’t have to wait in line. There are no parking hassles. I love being here.”

Laguna Hills resident Homan Arab, a junior business administration major, concurred. Arab uses the fitness center and library and is impressed with the upgraded classroom computer systems.

“This campus has a clean, new look,” observed Raheel Farook, a junior majoring in international business who is taking economics and management classes at the Irvine Campus.

“We had old buildings, but we made them work,” said Professor John Lawrence of the previous campus. “We got along fine for what we had there, but it was time to upgrade. Here we have newer facilities, but there’s still a special camaraderie among the staff.” Lawrence, a founding Irvine Campus faculty member, teaches three classes in statistics and mathematical modeling at the campus.

“The nice thing about the Irvine Campus is its sense of community,” agreed Drusilla Cottrell-Maurer, who teaches art and child development. “It’s a close-knit environment. People are very helpful, accommodating and friendly.”

The convenience of a small branch campus that nevertheless offers a full array of services to central and south Orange County students draws residents of all ages to a wide range of coursework, Cooper said.

“The facility is top quality,” said Professor George Giacumakis, who served as director of the branch campus from 1987 to 2008 and teaches history courses at the campus. “It’s a delight to walk into the classroom.”

Cooper believes the move is just the beginning and plans to develop community partnerships with businesses and organizations in and around the Irvine Spectrum.

“We’re seeking partners who can provide scholarships, internships and employment for students,” Cooper said. “We want to take an active role in the community. Our heightened south county presence and our new location are real steps forward in that process.” end of story