• USU Banner Image (Sol Center Exterior 1)

About Us

The University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge is a student centered non-profit organization that works to expand the college experience through various programs, services, employment, and involvement opportunities.

The USU first opened its doors in 1973 and is located on East University Drive. The facility was designed to enhance the total university experience through volunteer and job opportunities, events, and various services such as food, study areas, computer labs, and TV lounges.

The USU is committed to providing inclusion, diversity and personal growth to students, as well as food, study areas, computer labs, TV lounges, events and entertainment.

Completed in Fall 2006, the USU underwent a $15 million renovation that included the new Sol Center and various upgrades throughout the facilities. In Spring 2012, the USU opened the 138,000 square foot Student Recreation Center facility for exercise and leisure activity that promotes lifelong health and wellness.


The University Student Union, as the heart of campus, uplifts and empowers students to achieve educational, personal and professional goals by providing leadership development, meaningful employment, and innovative programs, services and facilities. We promote equity, inclusion and well-being, while encouraging social justice advocacy to help Matadors feel heard, respected and connected to CSUN.


  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Fun
  • Integrity
  • Learning
  • Respect
  • Service


Business, Operational Practices and Facilities

Support the design, development and remodel of the USU facilities to develop a wellness center that uses an integrated holistic approach to developing students’ commitment to well-being that positively impacts impediments to academic success.

Support and develop additional usable programmatic spaces and services in the USU that assist students in connection to the campus community.

Examine the feasibility of and need to renovate the interior of Building C to add meeting space, offices, more effective storage and to maximize available usable space. Adding meeting rooms will effectively increase the total inventory of programmable rooms allowing the USU to increase revenues needed to offset future fee increases, and to be able to create a sustainable, state-of-the-art conference and meeting center.

Enrollment Management, Retention and Advocacy

Examine, plan and publish corporate-wide assessments as part of the creation of a culture of evidence that strategically plans assessments, establishes transparency for stakeholders, and produces evidence that specific USU programs, services, and/or facilities enhance students’ capacity for personal achievement.

Conduct the Student Affairs Program review process for the USU in order to assess compliance with the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) and continually improve USU operations, services and programs.

Develop a comprehensive campus recreation program that contributes to the increase of fitness levels, health and overall wellness of the campus community and contributes to student persistence to graduation.

Maximize Financial Resources

Review the long-term financial plan to determine whether there are sufficient net assets to provide funding for current operations and future initiatives.

Determine the best uses of the Satellite Student Union in order to maximize use of organizational financial resources.

Staff Development and Well-Being

Implement an ongoing employee training and development program for supervisors that enhances skills and increases positive performance.

Support the Board of Directors student representatives and the USU student employees in discovering, strengthening and using their natural talents via the StrengthsQuest® program in order to help them achieve their educational goals.

Technology Advancement

Examine the need for an Innovative Technology Lounge in the former Computer Lab space to assist students in achieving their educational goals by providing the appropriate environment and technology.

Create an efficient recruitment and application tracking system that will streamline the manual-based recruitment process to an electronic-based recruitment process.

Management Staff

Debra L. Hammond

Debra L. Hammond
Executive Director

(818) 677-2390

Debra L. Hammond has more than 39 years of experience in higher education. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The USU is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization governed primarily by students. She opened a $60 million Student Recreation Center as well as a Pride (LGBTQ) Center, a Veterans Resource Center, and a state-of-the-art Oasis Wellness Center in 2013 and is currently in the process of planning a $130 million renovation/new construction project for the USU. She also serves as a faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. She teaches in the college counseling student services program where she received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2012. For her body of work, the California State University (CSU) selected Debra from among the CSU’s 23 campuses as its outstanding staff member of 2016. The Wang Family Excellence Award is the highest award presented to an administrator by the CSU. Debra also received the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 for her accomplishments as a woman in business.  

Tari Hunter

Tari Hunter
Associate Executive Director, Equity, Programs and Leadership

(818) 677-5652

Joseph C. Illuminate

Joseph C. Illuminate
Associate Director, Accounting & Finance

(818) 677-6492

Joseph Illuminate has served as the Associate Director, Finance & Business Services since February 2004. He provides leadership and direction for the USU Finance & Business Services department. Joseph is focused on being a steward of student fees to ensure there are sufficient resources to fund programs and services for students at the highest level. He earned his master’s degree in Public Administration and graduate certificate in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. Joseph also holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration with a specialization in accounting from California State University, Los Angeles.

Sharon S. Kinard

Sharon S. Kinard
Associate Director, Administration & Communications

(818) 677-6025

Sharon S. Kinard started her employment with the University Student Union in 1999, serving in several progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as associate director in October 2020. A former news reporter with the Los Angeles Daily News who covered city and county governments and education, Sharon provides solid news, writing and editing experience. She has oversight of the Department of Administration, Marketing Department, Department of Technology Support Services and Assessment. 

A former part-time co-instructor of assessment for CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education in its college counseling/student services graduate program, Sharon earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in journalism (English minor) from San Diego State University. She also is a facilitator in Strengths-Based Education with Gallup Inc.

Sharon is passionate about measuring student success efforts, programs and services. She enjoys writing, hiking and mentoring, as well as thought-provoking books, films, family and good friends. 

Samantha Liu

Samantha Liu
Associate Director, Operations & Services

(818) 677-2899

Samantha Liu started her employment as a student assistant with the University Student Union in January 2007 — her second semester at CSUN. She since has served in a variety of roles and currently serves as the Associate Director, Operations & Services. She oversees the Operations & Facilities Planning, Facilities Maintenance and Reservations & Event Services departments. She is a double home-grown CSUN graduate with a master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Sector Management & Leadership and her undergraduate degree in Public Health Education.


Kristen Pichler

Kristen Pichler
Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development

(818) 677-3849

Kristen Pichler, or KP as she’s more commonly known, started her employment with the University Student Union in 1985. Since then, she’s served in a variety of progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as the Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development in 2000, leading HR functions for the USU’s 450 employees and 40 volunteers. KP fosters a legal, safe, and fair employment environment, and is a champion of the student employment experience, encouraging students to acquire knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes that will help them succeed at work both now and post-graduation. She is a devoted Matador, holding both a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in English, from California State University, Northridge.

Contact Us

University Student Union

18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8272
(818) 677-2251

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