Campus: SAN BERNARDINO -- August 9, 2006

CSUSB Literacy Center Named After Generous Donors

At the recommendation of California State University, San Bernardino, the California State University Board of Trustees voted on July 19 to officially name the Cal State San Bernardino literacy center in honor of Orange County developers Watson and Associates, honoring the company's generosity in establishing and funding$1 million toward the center.

The decision follows the most recent donation of $800,000 made by the partners of the Seal Beach development firm: James and Judy Watson, Charles Diamond, Charles Shumaker, Brian Weinhart and William Steckbauer. Along with $200,000 in previous gifts, James Watson and his wife Judy have not only contributed funds to the effort, but they have actively served as chairs of the university's College of Education "Tools for Education" $4 million fundraising campaign.

"Watson and Associates have become outstanding friends to our university in just a short time, and we appreciate the way they have embraced so much that we do at Cal State San Bernardino. Beyond their remarkable relationship with CSUSB, they are extremely committed to helping school children become better students and ultimately citizens who are productive to society," said Cal State San Bernardino President Albert Karnig. "Through the generous help of Jim, Judy, Chuck, Charlie, Brian and Bill, our literacy center will become a model for other universities to emulate in helping children overcome the devastating obstacles created by illiteracy."

Now in its third year, the Watson and Associates Literacy Center focuses on helping school children in kindergarten through 12th grade in the San Bernardino area bolster their reading skills and achieve higher test scores. The center, which will move into a new 4,000-square-foot facility when the new College of Education building opens in winter 2007-2008, offers one-on-one tutoring to help children with their reading, writing and oral skills through specifically designed programs. It will also provide literacy instruction training to CSUSB students as well as local elementary school teachers.

For Jim Watson, president of Watson and Associates, the literacy center hits a personal note. Watson grew up in Compton, and was raised by his mother after his father died when he was 6 years old. He openly admits to being a "problem reader" as a child.

"I entered the fourth grade with poor reading skills," Watson said. "But with the help of a very dedicated teacher, within a month my reading skills had improved significantly. I still consider that class the most significant class I have ever taken, even up to college."

The center's vision has broader meaning for Watson as well. "While there are endless numbers of good, worthwhile causes to support, literacy struck an especially strong chord," Watson said. "Solid reading skills obtained at an early age are one of the best means of ensuring a person's, a family's and the nation's future success."

Watson and Associates, which is developing the site directly adjacent to CSUSB with upscale homes, plans to develop more than $300 million in San Bernardino residential projects in the upcoming years. This comes at a time when city officials are striving for economic revitalization. The new homes could attract higher-income workers and their families to live and work in the area.

The development across the street from Cal State San Bernardino will include four parks, walking trails and nearly 500 trees that were planted last year. The first phase has been constructed, while "The Heights at University Park," which will be located on the hillside above the first houses, will be completed soon.

Now the Watsons are leading an effort called "Tools for Education" to raise $4 million to equip and furnish the new CSUSB College of Education building. So far, they've raised more than $1.7 million. Watson and Associates also have pledged $300,000 to the university's art department to create works for display around the city.

To some, Jim and Judy Watson and Watson and Associates are land developers, but to Cal State San Bernardino they are much more. They are developing the minds and futures of the area's youth, securing for them a place in which they can learn and grow.

Contact: Sid Robinson, (909) 537-5007, Fax (909) 537-7043


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