About Concord

A History of the Concord Campus California State University, East Bay

The Concord Campus of California State University, East Bay started with a modest beginning in the fall of 1981 at a site vacated by Pleasant Hill High School. This public institution of higher learning was eagerly greeted by an ever-expanding, geographically challenged, population living in Central and East Contra Costa County and Southern Solano County.

Offering basic upper division courses in Liberal Studies and Business Administration, graduate courses in Public Administration, Education and Counseling, along with teaching credentials and continuing education certificate programs, the campus was soon flourishing with students, faculty and staff.

As enrollment increased with a broadening field of degree options, sights were focused on building a new facility to house the campus.  The rented facilities at the old high school included the original library, several classrooms, and two offices. Registration was accomplished in the library, where all of the tables were lined up to accommodate the long lines of registering students.

The Trustees of the CSU system approved building a permanent campus in Concord in 1986 on land purchased by the state in the 1970’s.  The former Cowell Ranch, which included 386 acres of rolling farmland near Lime Ridge Open Space, was to be the site for the new Contra Costa Campus.

1991 was a pivotal year in the campus’ evolution: the 10th anniversary of the Contra Costa Campus and the year in which construction began on what would be the first permanent branch campus in the CSU. Community leaders and public officials were very influential in obtaining the funding and support for the land and construction of the new campus. Dean Lesher, Contra Costa Times publisher and member of the California State University Board of Trustees, was a prime mover for the project. State Senator Dan Boatwright played a pivotal role in securing state support.   

The campus in Concord opened in fall of 1992 with 90,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, laboratories, a library, computer lab, student center, and art studio provided twice the space found at the old high school site. The new campus was dedicated by Norma Rees, Cal State Hayward’s President and Barry Munitz, Chancellor for the entire California State University System, on May 7, 1993.

A critical component in the success of the campus has been the relationship that has been cultivated with the four area community colleges: Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, Contra Costa College and Solano Community College. In 1994, both Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College began offering classes at the Contra Costa Campus, providing their students with an opportunity to experience the Campus while attending community college classes.  This has proven to be an ideal and seamless transition from community college freshman and sophomore level courses to the Campus’s junior, senior and graduate level courses.

The City of Concord was eager to have a public four-year university within their community, providing affordable higher education and cultural enrichment for their citizenry. Collaboration with the City of Concord has been vital for the campus’ success. In 1996, talks began between the two entities about the utilization of undeveloped acreage on the east side of the campus for sports fields for the growing Concord community. In 1997, President Norma Rees signed a lease with the city.  The fields were completed for use in 2000.  There are currently 2600 youth utilizing the field on a regular basis.

California State University, Hayward became California State University, East Bay in January 2005. The campus in Concord, at this opportune time, changed its name to the Concord Campus.

Cal State East Bay has long been a leader in distance learning technology, much to the benefit of the Concord Campus. The first interactive distance learning classroom was complete in 1993; the second in 1994.  This was a major development for the campus, as students now had “virtual” access to courses at the Hayward campus and other sites. This provided an opportunity for students on both campuses to attend courses that may not have the minimum required at one of the sites. Dual campus courses were set up with professors alternating in-room presence between the campuses in Hayward and Concord.  Current technological efforts include the development of “Smart Classrooms” – complete with internet, video, and projection capabilities.

The Concord Campus currently has nearly 1400 students.  They are mainly female (70%) with an average age of 34 years. Most students are working full-time and attend classes in the evenings. Often they have been out of school for a while, for career or family, and are finally finishing off their bachelor’s degree or starting their master’s. Students are extremely focused on their academic efforts and complement their wealth of life experience with their new educational endeavor.

Academic offerings at the Concord Campus have expanded through the years. Currently eight bachelors and five master’s degrees, teaching credentials, and certificate programs are being offered. Bachelor’s degrees include Business Administration, Criminal Justice Administration, English, Human Development, Liberal Studies, Nursing, Psychology, Recreation and Sociology. Master’s degrees include Counseling, Education, Educational Leadership, Public Administration, and Social Work...

Building on decades of community college outreach, campus recruiters recently added outreach to the County’s high school population to their areas of focus. They are being warmly welcomed by high school counselors and students. 

In 2003, the first Day of the Teacher Conference attracted more than 150 participants considering or new to careers in teaching. This day-long event included panel discussions by first and second-year teachers, presentations by premier teachers in local school districts, workshops on effective classroom management, time management and interview skills, presentations, motivating “at-risk” students, building caring classrooms, pathways to teaching, and thematic teaching. This program was held again in spring of 2004 with great success.  Many of the teachers in Contra Costa County received their credentials in the Concord Campus’ teacher credential program.

The Longs Foundation has consistently provided scholarships for Concord Campus students since 1990. In spring 2004, seven continuing students were awarded Longs Scholarships. The Dean’s Scholarship fund was founded in 2003. The first scholarship was awarded in spring 2004 to an excellent student who has demonstrated a commitment to community leadership. In winter 2005, Walnut Creek Honda contributed to support scholarships for the first FastTrack Teacher Preparation Cohort starting in fall 2005. Expansion of scholarship opportunities is a priority for the campus.

Campus staff and faculty have been actively involved in collaborative efforts with industry, area community colleges and K-12 institutions. Highlights include connecting the Concord Campus with the Contra Costa Business/Education Collaborative with specific efforts involving biotech, environmental science, and health-related industry clusters. The campus was honored in May 2004 as Higher Education Partner of the Year for these efforts.

In the summer of 2000, “The Concert in the Hills Series” was inaugurated with three free music concerts and was offered to students, faculty, staff and the community-at-large. Crowds of 200-400 gathered to appreciate the experience. Community cultivation increased in 2001 with the expansion to seven free monthly concerts. The Contra Costa Times donated advertising space to help get the word out. The Clayton Business and Community Association provided monetary support for the series. Chevron rose to the occasion, providing monetary support as presenting sponsor.  In 2002, Astound Broadband became presenting sponsor. By 2003, the Concert in the Hills Series started to truly take on a life of its own.  More than 6500 people attended over the course of the six-concert series. Business sponsors not only provided funding, but also television commercials, newspaper advertising and brochure paper and printing. The free music series has become a summer tradition for families and music aficionados from all over the region and continues to bring new audiences to the campus.

Other community cultivation efforts include the “Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series” featuring lectures by premier Cal State East Bay faculty and other area experts. Film nights feature rare footage from an on-campus film archive, presented by a CSUEB communications professor.

Emeriti faculty created and began the SCHOLAR-Olli program for the 50 plus crowd in 2000. Supported largely by the Continuing Education department, most programs took place at the Concord Campus and are presented by volunteer emeriti faculty. SCHOLAR- Olli has a minimal budget for printing and occasional honoraria but little else, while participation increased each year. 2003 was a turning point. The Bernard Osher Foundation provided a $100,000 grant to support the program as a lifelong learning institute, now named SCHOLAR-OLLI (An Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).  These funds allowed the program to expand tremendously. Staffing includes a part-time program coordinator, marketing assistant, and administrative assistant. The grant provided support for marketing collateral, honoraria, lecture videotaping for broadcast, and member special events. A second grant of $100,000 was received in April 2004. There is potential for a third grant in 2005 and an endowment of $1,000,000 following.

Starting in the fall of 2004, the Concord Campus embarked on a comprehensive long-range planning process. Two groups are involved in this process: a task force to address the campus’ programmatic needs, and a committee to develop a facilities master plan taking the entire 386 acres of campus property into consideration.

The program-focused Strategic Planning Task Force includes representatives from each of the University’s colleges, administrative departments, student services, students, staff, and local community colleges. They are analyzing past and current programmatic activity, regional economic and population studies, enrollment projections, and the unique relationship between the Concord and Hayward campuses.  Resulting initiatives and plans include academic programs, extended university programs, instructional and student support, personnel needs, resource requirements and funding alternatives, and a timeline for implementation.  The Program Task Force has completed their report and some of their recommendations have already been implemented.

The Concord Campus Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee includes representatives from the campus and surrounding communities. They are examining enrollment and programmatic projections along with a physical analysis of the site, and develop plans for facilities and surrounding area land use. This plan will provide a benchmark for the development of the Concord Campus, and will also guide the assessment of opportunities for the creation of facilities and partnerships.

New degree programs began in fall 2006 including the Bachelor’s in History, the Minor in Early Childhood Education, and the option of Early Childhood Development under the Bachelor’s in Human Development.  Faculty from the History Department, Human Development, Social Work and Nursing will be based at the Concord Campus.

Pivotal in the equation is the addition of the Bachelor’s in Nursing program (the RN to BSN program has previously been available). A sophomore cohort of 44 began courses in fall 2006 with another sophomore cohort of 65 cohort starting in fall 2007. John Muir Health has been instrumental in supporting this program with a grant of $1.7M.  New clinical facilities, state of the art simulation lab faculty offices now provide necessary physical space, while three resident nursing faculty will focus on the Concord cohorts.

In 2008 the inaugural Pre-Nursing program launched welcoming 58 freshman Pre-Nursing/Health Science students to the Concord Campus.  The cohort style program offers small classrooms, guaranteed access to all pre-requisite coursework required to apply to a Nursing program, and an opportunity to complete both an RN and Bachelor of Science, Nursing at the Concord Campus.  Analysis of the first two cohorts indicate that this program is providing opportunities for students from nearby communities such as Walnut Creek, Concord, Pittsburg and Antioch where a diverse group of students can access a public four year University education.  

Programs continued to expand with the introduction of a Master’s degree with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education for providers serving Contra Costa County in partnership with the First Five Contra Costa County Children and Families Commission.    

While external programs expanded so did internal opportunities for students.  A Concord Campus Ambassador program began to provide formal leadership training for students.  Students provide leadership at orientation and represent CSU East Bay externally at community events and on-campus programs.  ASI student government expanded its role for students by implementing an executive board specifically for students attending classes in Concord and instituting an ongoing requirement for a yearly Al Fresco! resource fair.  This is in addition to continuing monthly movie and event programming to help engage students’ and their families in campus life activities.  

By fall of the 2009, Associated Students Incorporated showed their commitment to expanding student life by providing full time staff program coordinator position to establish programs specific to the needs of Concord Campus students.

It was through the Partnership with ASI that Concord renovated its Student Lounge, Bookstore and enhanced the student café.

Concord remains dedicated to partnering with its community and recently hosted Cool Nights, a collaboration to create a college going culture with middle school parents; put on by Contra Costa County Office of Education, As well as many other programs including the County Academic Decathlon, Environmental Science and Biotech camps to enrich student education.

The future for the Concord Campus includes offering programs that continue to meet the workforce needs of the county by providing quality degrees and programming that meet the needs of busy working professionals and freshman students interested in healthcare. The population of the region is dramatically increasing, and the demand for public higher education and a well-trained workforce is ever-expanding. The campus is eager to move ahead; we look forward to planning for the road before us.

August 2010

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