Campus: CSU, San Bernardino -- December 10, 1999

First CSU Campus Built Privately Secures Funds For Construction

A $4.5 million contribution from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation for the California State University's Coachella Valley Campus (CVC) here assures a spring groundbreaking for the first building of a permanent CSU to be located at Frank Sinatra Drive and Cook Street.

The largest gift in Cal State's $9 million capital campaign, the Berger Foundation donation is the most generous contribution the foundation has made since its establishment in 1961. It is in keeping with the organization's emphasis upon education at all levels, stated foundation President Ronald M. Auen. The foundation has established college buildings and scholarships among other charitable projects designed to "help people help themselves."

"The Cal State campus is going to be a needed addition to this Valley," Auen said. "We are very happy to be involved with the university. It is a major asset in the Coachella Valley."

Cal State's CVC has been operating on the grounds of the College of the Desert since 1986. Currently, its enrollment of more than 800 students exceeds its capacity in the CVC's temporary buildings, so Cal State, San Bernardino, its mother campus, has been raising private funds for a three-building project to establish a stand-alone campus, said Albert Karnig, president of Cal State, San Bernardino.

"This is a turning point for the new campus because we can break ground in the next few months on land recently donated to us by the city of Palm Desert," he noted. "It is truly heartwarming that several foundations, individuals and corporations share our dream for citizens of the Valley to have full access to a university education."

Valley leaders elected to raise funds privately rather than wait 10-15 years for new building monies to possibly become available through the state, Karnig added.

The announcement of the Berger Foundation gift was made at a celebration luncheon hosted today by the university and the city of Palm Desert in observance of the city's contribution of land, valued at some $3 million. Prior to the program, which featured CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, Cal State, San Bernardino also announced the donation of a $1 million irrevocable trust by Florence Rigdon of Rancho Mirage. An award-winning painter who has lived in the Valley since 1972, Rigdon sees her gift as an investment in "the children of our community. They will be the leaders and officials that we'll depend on, and they need a good education."

"These generous gifts today demonstrate commitment to educational opportunity in the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert," stated Peter Wilson, dean of the Coachella Valley Campus.

Approximately $18 million is still needed for the construction of two additional buildings for the new campus, he added.

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