Campus: SAN DIEGO -- September 27, 2006

SDSU'S College of Arts & Letters Opens '21st Century Home for its 21st Century Mission'

Largest SDSU College Now Under Roof of Largest Academic Building on Campus

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders will be the guest of honor at the grand opening of San Diego State University's new College of Arts & Letters building Tuesday, Oct. 3. But what impresses Sanders even more than the new $26.8 million facility, is how the college is evolving to meet the present and future needs of the region.

"Now more than ever, we need an internationally focused workforce that can bridge language and cultural differences to build our economy, enhance our security and improve our quality of life," Sanders said. "San Diego State's College of Arts & Letters is playing a crucial role in meeting that need, and now its faculty and students will have a 21st century home to help them accomplish their 21st century mission."

University officials expect hundreds of alumni, faculty, donors and community members to attend the grand opening, including California State University Trustee Murray Galinson, The event will begin at approximately 4 p.m.

While the college still places a strong emphasis on disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, it's also important for the college to continue to move forward to meet emerging academic and professional needs, said Paul Wong, dean of the College of Arts & Letters.

"Thirty-five years ago the college helped lead the nation in establishing degree programs in emerging fields such as Chicano/Chicana studies and women's studies," Wong said. "Now the pressing need is to develop leaders and professionals who have global skills and perspectives. We want SDSU to be in the forefront in educating language speakers. The national need in terms of defense, international trade, and heath and human services is growing every day, and we have an obligation to respond to that."

Student demand is also driving the expansion of language programs, especially Asian languages, where the college has seen the sharpest increases in enrollment. The college has Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese language programs, and Wong said he has initiated plans to begin a Korean studies and language program.

"Our students have insightfully recognized the tremendous growth of political and economic power coming out of places like China and Korea," Wong said. "We want to address that by creating more international education partnerships with universities from these countries."

Other languages offered by the college include Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Persian, French, German, Russian and Italian.

In support of the college's international initiative, the Fred J. Hansen Foundation has awarded Arts & Letters $1.5 million to establish the Hansen Foundation Summer Institute on Conflict Resolution. The program will bring young leaders from developing nations to study at SDSU in the international security and conflict resolution program, an interdisciplinary major housed in the college.

There are other aspects to Arts & Letters' international initiative as well. Wong said the college intends to start a master's degree program focused on the specific skills of translation and interpretation, and there are plans to increase the number of students who participate in study abroad programs. SDSU currently ranks second in the nation among universities of its type for students studying abroad, and Arts & Letters leads SDSU's seven colleges with 561 students studying abroad last year.

In the meantime, Wong said students and faculty are embracing the new and modern space in the Arts & Letters building. Faculty and staff began moving in during August, and classes were operational at the start of the fall semester.

The state-funded, 109,000 square-foot building stands six-floors tall near the northwest corner of campus and is easily visible from Interstate 8. It will bring under one roof the college's 19 academic departments, as well as more than a dozen centers and institutes, including three nationally-funded Title VI centers. These centers the Center for Latin American Studies, the National Language Acquisition Resource Center and the Center for International Business Education and Research received nearly $6 million in new funding from the U.S. Department of Education this year. Each of the centers offers a multicultural environment for international education, with a heavy emphasis on development of language and culture skills.

SDSU's College Arts & Letters building has four lecture rooms, classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art smart room technology, two computer labs and a 500-seat auditorium. The college raised approximately $1 million in naming opportunities for the building, all of which directly support merit-based student scholarships.

In addition to its international endeavors, the college is also devoting more efforts to increase endowed professorships and scholarships to support faculty and students. Last year, the college received a gift for an endowed professorship in Children's Literature. And, a donation by the late Barbara Schuch this fall, will establish the first endowed professorship in classics and humanities.

"Barbara had an outstanding career in education, particularly in the San Diego Unified School District," Wong said. "She was also a member of the Friends of Classics a group that has been very active in supporting our classics and humanities programs for twenty-five years."

The new building also will save the university money through several state-of-the-art energy efficiency design features. "Green" elements include recycled cork rubber flooring, acoustic panels with recycled content cores in the auditorium, plus energy-efficient windows, window treatments and lighting. HMC Architects, the company that designed the building, said because of its energy-efficient design, the building will require one-fourth less energy than a similar sized building without those features.

Contact: Gina Speciale, Media Relations Specialist, (619) 594-4563 office; (619) 813-3581 cell, speciale@mail.sdsu.edu


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