Camarillo, Calif., Feb. 13, 2012 – CSU Channel Islands (CI) invites the public to the grand opening of two student centers designed to encourage and support graduate and postbaccalaureate students and students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  A public event will be held Thursday, Feb. 23, at 4 p.m. at the newly renovated El Dorado Hall, located on the CI campus.  Join University President Richard Rush and members of the CI campus community in celebrating and touring the new Graduate Studies Center (GSC) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Center.

Funded with the help of federal grants designed to strengthen Hispanic-Serving Institutions, both centers aim to nurture and inspire all students to pursue advanced degrees and the STEM disciplines.

“The Graduate Studies Center is a centralized place that helps us to foster a sense of community and belonging among CI’s growing graduate and professional student population,” said Dr. Kaia Tollefson, education associate professor and director of the Project Vista grant that created the GSC.  “Our intention is to make it a one-stop shop designed to give our graduate and postbac students, who are often working professionals, the campus services and support they need to succeed.”

The GSC offers convenient, extended evening hours and a home where students can seek academic, financial and career advice, tutoring, workshops and mentoring, quiet study or group collaboration and consultation.  It features seminar and study rooms, a kitchen, a lounge, a family restroom and lactation area, and offices for academic advising and career development. A study is underway at the center to determine the scope of need for an on-campus family and childcare facility.

Also housed in El Dorado Hall, the STEM Center is a dedicated space for students of science, technology, engineering and math.  Most of its walls are covered with whiteboard – allowing aspiring mathematicians and scientists to work out problems and equations on an expansive, erasable surface. The STEM Center includes ample computer workspaces, places for students, faculty and staff to work and meet, and areas to showcase student research. An outdoor laboratory and greenhouse are also in the works.

“The STEM Center will enable CI to better prepare our students to become part of a vital and critically needed workforce in the areas of math, science, engineering and technology,” said Dr. Phil Hampton, chemistry professor and director of Project ACCESO, the grant that funded the STEM Center.  “It’s a place to build a community and reinforce student success by providing extra help in courses that can be particularly challenging.”
The El Dorado Hall renovation gives new life to an old building that served as a canteen when it was part of the former hospital and, later, played host to CI’s first Student Union.

The GSC and STEM Centers help CI fulfill its goal of making graduate and STEM education more attractive and attainable – particularly for underrepresented minorities.  Graduate and postbaccalaureate students compose almost 9 percent of CI’s student population; STEM majors constitute nearly 18 percent. The University offers six master’s degree programs and three postbaccalaureate teaching credential programs, with new graduate programs planned in the coming years.

Both centers were funded with the help of Department of Education Title V grants awarded to Hispanic-Serving Institutions, which have student populations that are more than 25 percent Hispanic. Project Vista is a five-year, $2.8 million grant designed to strengthen CI’s graduate culture and enhance the capacity of its postbaccalaureate programs to better serve, retain, and graduate Hispanic and low-income students.  Project ACCESO is a five-year, $6 million program aimed at increasing the number of Hispanic and low-income students who are pursuing and graduating from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors at CI.

Limited parking is available on campus with the purchase of a $6 daily permit; follow signs to the parking permit dispensers.  Free parking is available at the Camarillo Metrolink Station/Lewis Road parking lot in Camarillo with bus service to and from the campus. Riders should board the VISTA Bus to the campus; the fare is $1.25 each way. Buses arrive and depart from the Camarillo Metrolink Station every 30 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. For exact times, check the schedule at

For more information on the Graduate Studies Center or Project Vista, contact Dr. Kaia Tollefson at 805-437-3125 or or Wendy Olson, GSC Activity Director and Project Vista Coordinator, at 805-437-8553 or

For additional information on the STEM Center or Project ACCESO, contact Dr. Phil Hampton at 805-437-8869 or

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands 
(CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CI's Social Media.