Faculty and Students Enjoy New Downtown Campus
March 9, 2007 12:42 AM
Ubiquitous Wi-Fi, classroom walls made entirely of expansive windows and nearly sound-proof study rooms for students are just a few of the amenities included at the new Downtown Campus.
The SF State extension has gotten off to a smooth start, experiencing only minor hurdles in the two months since its opening.
Situated on the fifth and sixth floors of the recently revamped Westfield San Francisco Centre, the Downtown Campus is home to the College of Business graduate programs and the College of Extended Learning. Instruction began at the start of the spring semester and, for the most part, both the faculty and students are elated by their environment.
“I like to say we used to ride a Schwinn,” said Aaron Anderson, director of the Executive MBA Program, of the old main campus location. “Now we ride a supercharged bike.”
“It’s truly a spectacular location,” he added. “[The former location is] basically cinder blocks and four walls.”
The SF State College of Business graduate program in the Westfield Centre takes up half of the fifth floor of its 835 Market St. location. Level upon level of frenzied customers can be seen shopping in stores such as Bloomingdales, Lucky Brand Jeans and the Sunglass Hut from various windows located throughout the school.
The MBA facility boasts 10 immaculate, high-tech classrooms with prime views of the downtown area and the bustling streets below. The walls on the west side of the campus are made from the original brick that survived the 1906 earthquake, which serves as a reminder of the building’s history in the highly innovative setting. Gone are small, rickety fold-up classroom desks. Students are treated to spacious tables with built-in electrical outlets, and sit comfortably in rolling chairs with lumbar support.
Overwhelmingly, graduate students seem happy about the relocation.
Lisa Takeuchi, 31, a third-year international business graduate student, echoed the sentiment.
“I love the new campus,” said Takeuchi. “I like that it’s clean. The bathrooms on the main campus are filthy.”
The downtown location also makes it easier for students who work or live in its vicinity to walk to school or take some mode of public transportation. A BART station is located directly beneath the building.
However, driving a personal vehicle to campus is not recommended. The student discounted ticket price to park is $9 per day in the Ellis O'Farrell garage. Many of the students who attend the Downtown Campus extension do not have concurrent classes on the main campus, which eliminates the hassle of commuting between the two locations.
Another perk: students attribute the new center with promoting intra-department networking.
“It is way easier to meet people and connect,” said Joe Gannon, 26, a first year MBA student. “[The campus] removes barriers. When you talk to someone you know they are a graduate business student too.”
Roughly 500 students are enrolled in the graduate business program. And while it is still too early to determine what the student body growth rate will be, faculty members have noticed that more people are interested in attending the school since it relocated.
The business department has held four informational seminars since the downtown centers’ inception; all of which have been maxed to capacity. The College of Extended Learning (CEL) has more concrete information. A receptionist, who declined to give his name, said there has been a 30 percent growth in enrollment since CEL relocated from its 425 Market St. facility, which was located four blocks away from the new center.
Despite the aesthetic beauty of the new facility and the amenities it boasts, it is not without its share of pitfalls. While the faculty did not supply the exact cost of construction or maintenance, Anderson did say the rent for the downtown center is significantly higher than any other previous location. And because the graduate school is a self-sustaining program, meaning it doesn’t rely on tax dollars or fund raising efforts to stay afloat, the added expenses equate to registration fee hikes for students.
Registration fees for full-time California resident students in the regular MBA program are roughly $1,900 per semester. Beginning next semester those rates are set to increase by $1,200.
“Although it doesn’t carry the same prestige, it’s still cheaper than Berkeley,” said Stracey of the inflated fees.
Registration rates for the executive MBA program are significantly higher, with students paying $670 per unit. Fees for this program are not expected to increase for at least another year.
Another potential problem with the facility is that the mall may serve as a distraction for students.
“When I have breaks I do [shopping] laps around the mall,” said Takeuchi.
Second-year finance student Jing Yu, 25, relayed a similar scenario.
“When I don’t have things to do [at school] I go shopping,” said Yu. “I spend a lot of money.”
The price of the food in the mall’s food court, which doubles as the school cafeteria, also poses an inconvenience. Students typically pay $8 for a meal. Although students say they make up for the financial burden in other areas.
“The price of food doesn’t really bother me,” said Takeuchi. “The little bit more I spend on food, I save on gas.”
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