University Student Union New Heart of Campus Renovation and Expansion Project Update
Over the last eighteen months, the New Heart of Campus project has progressed through the various stages of design with extensive input from campus and USU stakeholders and the USU Board of Directors (BOD). Despite continuous efforts to design the project within the originally allocated project budget of $130 million (and $7.7 million of additional resources allocated to the project by the USU BOD), the current design of the project is estimated at an additional $47.7 million (project total of $177.5 million) and cannot be implemented within the financial resources that would be provided by the $125 per semester referendum fee. This is the result of three significant external factors affecting the project which have occurred since the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Unprecedented and continuing increases to the cost of construction
- Declining enrollment in colleges and universities nationwide, and specifically at CSUN
- Increases in financial interest rates because of rising economic inflation
The USU BOD was presented with a wide range of options in Oct. 2022 on how to move forward, and they authorized the project committee to re-imagine the project within the constraints of the previously approved $125/semester fee increase rather than ask students for an additional fee increase. This means that the project that is in design currently will not be happening and we will be re-envisioning the project looking at other, smaller alternative options.
The USU will be working over the next several months to develop various smaller project options with a focus on prioritizing the items most desired by our students, like the Basic Needs Suite. Our plan will include engaging students in a comprehensive assessment process to determine additional options for the BOD’s consideration.
This also includes considering shifts in student needs and priorities which may have occurred since the project referendum was passed by students in 2019.
While we understand that downsizing the project may not be the most desired outcome, we are now focused on using this opportunity to prioritize the most important elements of the project for our students. We thank you for all the time and effort you have put forth to help us understand the needs of the USU and our students, and look forward to your continued participation as we advance into this new phase of re-imagining the project.