New Downtown Center Means New Costs for Business Graduate Students
October 17, 2006 5:54 PM
SF State’s graduate business school may be moving to a new and modern site downtown, but its 700 students will have to shoulder the cost.
According to a report by the SF State Academic Affairs Office, full-time graduate business students could pay about 65 percent more in course fees, or an additional $1,200. Part-timers will be asked to pay 57 percent more increasing their course fees by $700.
The more than $1 million raised each year by the increase would pay for the new property’s rent, heating, air conditioning and instructional equipment. Already approved by SF State President Robert Corrigan, the increase only needs the signature of the California State University Board of Trustees to go into effect next fall.
The Downtown Campus, as the site will be known, will be at the recently remodeled Westfield San Francisco Centre. Joining the graduate business program at the Powell and Market streets building is the College of Extended Learning, which is currently located four blocks down at 425 Market St.
“Wow,” said Brian Petersen, a 28-year-old first-year SF State graduate business student. “That’s good news… sort of.”
“It’s still cheaper than Berkeley or private schools, but funds are tight for a lot of people right now,” said Petersen, noting that many business grad students choose SF State over other schools because of its affordability.
The move was made for several reasons, but most notably for a closer proximity to the financial district for the graduate business school – which is currently split between the main Holloway Avenue campus and a campus in Redwood City – and extra space said SF State spokeswoman Ellen Griffin.
The Powell Street and Market Street location will mean 12 more classrooms than the 19 they have at the current location. Annually that means space for an additional 3,000 College of Extended Learning students.
“The current lease was running out and the owner did not want to renew,” said Griffin in an e-mail interview. “The university saw this as an excellent opportunity to expand and strengthen its programs downtown, particularly those of interest to the business community.”
Annually, 7,700 students, including 1,400 from the graduate business program and 6,300 from the College of Extended Learning, will utilize the new Downtown Campus, and occupy the entire sixth floor and part of the fifth floor. Extended learning courses currently offered at the Holloway Avenue campus will remain there.
The Westfield San Francisco Centre is the largest urban mall west of the Mississippi. It features the West Coast flagship Bloomingdale’s, a nine-screen CinéArts Century Theatres movie complex, a spa, offices, and more than 150 boutiques and shops.
John Dopp, the director of graduate business programs, is excited about the opportunities the move will offer the college and its students.
"First, it means much greater exposure and access to the business community downtown," he said.
The locality of the new facility, Dopp said, means more guest speakers from and interaction with San Francisco's business community than is now available at SF State's main campus. It will also allow for "more networking and collegiality" among graduate business students than before.
"We'll have a complete new facility to call our own instead of being scattered all over (the main) campus," Dopp said.
Though the program is moving downtown, graduate business students will still be asked to pay local fees for the Holloway Avenue campus including fees for athletics, student government and the Cesar Chavez Student Center, according to Griffin.
No fee increase has been forecasted for next semester’s College of Extended Learning students, though no determination can be made for subsequent semesters, said College of Extended Learning spokeswoman Susan Propst.
The College of Extended Learning, which has been at it’s current downtown site since 1993, is primarily geared toward assisting working professionals in providing skills needed for career advancement or change.
Altogether more than 60 programs are available, including paralegal, holistic health and multimedia technology.
Funds to pay for the CEL’s portion of the rent are coming from the university and extended learning’s overall budget and course fees, Griffin said.
If an application for a tax break from the city comes through, the new center will be cheaper per square foot than its current location. However, SF State officials declined to reveal the rental costs of either the new or current sites.
The fee increase was presented for approval to the Student Fee Advisory Board this summer. The board, made up of both students and administrative officials, may advise, but cannot demand, the administration take actions on student’s fees.
Associated Students Inc. President Maire Fowler, who is a member of the Student Fee Advisory Board, expressed concerns over the planned increase at the meeting and again to President Corrigan in a letter written shortly after the meeting this July.
In the letter, Fowler said the new 15-year lease, signed in December 2005, committed the university to a debt of more than $1 million dollars a year.
Fowler also requested the school only give the fee increase to first-semester students.
At press time, she had not received a response from President Corrigan.
While graduate student Petersen thinks the move is worthwhile, he questions the school’s methods.
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