by Kristin Crosley, Sundial Staff
*Published in the print edition of The Daily Sundial on Aug. 26, 2002
After more than three decades of planning and pushing for a four-year public university in Ventura County, California State University, Channel Islands, was officially declared open on Aug. 16.
Faculty, students, dignitaries and community members gathered for the opening ceremony of the 23rd member of the California State University system and the only university nationwide to open this year.
“This is a great day,” said Gov. Gray Davis in his address to the crowd gathered for the occasion. “This is a fabulous day. For too long Ventura County has been the largest county in the state without a four-year university … I’m so proud to say that today Ventura County becomes home to one of the great universities in the world.”
The event did not come without hard work and persistence.
“Citizens here … have all labored mightily to make this day a reality,” Davis said, adding that it was a, “Herculean achievement.”
Planning for the university began in 1965 when former Gov. Pat Brown authorized a bill that gave $20,000 for an advance acquisition site study for a state college in Ventura County.
More than 30 years later, CSUCI will open its doors to approximately 1,320 transfer students this semester and will begin accepting freshmen in Fall 2003. The university will offer undergraduate majors and minors in art, biology, business, computer science, English, environmental science and resource management, liberal studies and mathematics. Students will also have the opportunity to earn teaching credentials.
CSUCI was an extension campus of CSUN before becoming its own university. CSUN students like Kirsten Moss, 30, Associated Students president for CSUN at Channel Islands, were able to attend classes at the Channel Islands campus while earning credit toward a degree from CSUN.
“I’m technically a Northridge student,” said Moss, “but my heart belongs to Channel Islands. We’ve all been working toward this moment. It’s exciting to see it happen.”
Moss, a sociology major, will continue taking CSUN classes at CSUCI. She said that even though CSUCI does not offer a major in sociology, students from Northridge are able to continue taking sociology classes at Channel Islands until 2006.
“It’s really accommodating,” Moss said. “It’s about keeping students at the center of focus in decision making.”
Focusing on students has been Dr. Richard R. Rush’s priority since he was appointed CSUCI president in 2001. He wants CSUCI to be a, “forward-looking university for the 21st century.”
By the year 2025, CSUCI is expected to be at its full capacity of 15,000 full-time students.
The campus is located among agricultural fields at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains on the grounds of the former Camarillo State Hospital.
The location, “evolved from a place of healing to a place of learning,” said the Rev. James Decker-Mahin during the prayer that opened the ceremony.
Sen. Jack O’Connell, who played a significant role in obtaining funds for the university, said his mother, a nurse at the former Camarillo State Hospital, had always told him the campus would be better as a school than as a hospital.
“Mom, we finally did it,” O’Connell said.