CSUMB Reaches Out to Serve Salinas

“Do you worry about the future of California? Then you should worry about Salinas. Because if this Monterey County city of 155,000 can’t build itself a brighter future, it’s hard to imagine other struggling places doing the same."

That’s how reporter Joe Mathews began a column that was part of last summer’s series, Salinas: California’s Richest Poor City," a special project of Zócalo Public Square and the California Wellness Foundation.

The series portrayed two starkly different, if familiar, views of Monterey County: the agricultural areas of the Salinas Valley and the tourist meccas of the Monterey Peninsula.

From our campus at Cal State Monterey Bay, we can see both sides of that divide. And helping to bridge it is an important part of our mission.

This week, we announced that we are leasing the former site of Heald College in North Salinas for use as classrooms and office space for CSUMB programs. We will call the facility CSUMB @ North Salinas.

Planning for how we will use the building is just beginning. I can say that faculty, staff and administrators who have toured the site already have plenty of ideas for services we might offer there.

Our guiding principle is that we want to make higher education – and a college degree – more accessible to more people.

At CSUMB @ North Salinas, classes could be offered to allow people who left college before graduation to complete degrees. Admissions and financial aid offices could provide on-site guidance to prospective students. Classes could be offered to help smooth the transition to CSUMB for students transferring from Hartnell College.

Certainly, the space will prove useful in expanding our existing partnerships with Hartnell in computer science, nursing and agricultural technology. And as we expand and create programs in our College of Health Sciences and Human Services, CSUMB @ North Salinas should provide an excellent site to launch partnerships with Salinas health care providers.

CSUMB @ North Salinas is only one part of our university’s growing outreach. CSUMB @ Salinas City Center will offer extended education programs, faculty lectures, exhibits and performances, while continuing to house the National Steinbeck Center. And CSUMB @ Ryan Ranch, the former Monterey Herald building, is providing us with badly needed office and research space and will be another potential site for educational activities.

At CSUMB, we strongly believe that a key to bringing our county more closely together is creating more opportunities to learn. While lack of educational attainment is often viewed as a Salinas Valley issue, in truth, our educational level countywide falls well below state averages.

That is a major reason for our Bright Futures initiative, the cradle-to-career educational initiative that is bringing together business, education, foundations, and the public and private sector around ways we can improve outcomes for all of our county’s students.

Education, it is said, is the great equalizer. At CSUMB, we are eager to work with willing partners from around our region to spread its benefits as widely as possible.

By Eduardo Ochoa, President, CSUMB

Published, Salinas Californian 2/13/16