California State University, Stanislaus, kicks off its fall semester Thursday, looking toward wider exposure for the arts, a new fundraising campaign and the imminent arrival of nearly 9,000 students.
“A new academic year always brings a level of excitement to a college campus, and this is an especially exciting time for us,” said President Joseph Sheley. “We truly view the community as partners, both in educating our region’s work force and in offering cultural opportunities for its citizens, and this year, we are poised to take those partnerships to a new level.”
Those partnerships include a Main Street art studio and display area, Art Space on Main, which will have its ribbon cutting Sept. 5, showcasing faculty work. Art lovers can check out an exhibit by Max Presneill at the University Art Gallery beginning Thursday.
A major push for academic scholarships will start Aug. 28, involving up to 350 community volunteers. The six-week One Purpose campaign aims to collect $1 million for students who demonstrate academic excellence.
Some 8,986 students, including 1,174 pursuing graduate degrees, will converge on the campus starting Thursday. But on Wednesday, only a few dorm residents and those seeking last-minute books and class changes strolled the quiet campus.
First-year instructor Rashaan DeShay ate lunch in front of the Mary Stuart Rogers building. “I start tomorrow. I’m ready to go,” she said. DeShay will be teaching a course on race, ethnicity and crime, and said current events will figure in class discussion.
Longtime professor John Garcia sat in his office in Demergasso-Bava Hall taking a required online defensive driving course. “My syllabi are ready. I’m all set,” Garcia said.
His students starting the master’s in social work program were meeting for orientation across campus. In the quad, occasional bicyclists zoomed past small groups of dorm residents crisscrossing the campus as part of a housing-sponsored scavenger hunt. The contest took new students to the health center, recreation complex, advising office and 11 other service sites.
The winners were to get movie tickets, said Jennifer Humphrey, director of housing and residential life. The scavenger hunt, ice-breakers and a series of orientation meetings started Sunday, move-in day for the record 695 students living in campus dorms and apartments.
Mixed in with serious topics about getting help, avoiding crime and fire safety, residents met warrior mascot Titus and had a “glow party” with fluorescent decor. They met the academic and resident advisers who will live on their floors, the front lines of dorm troubleshooting and event planning.
“I see it as our responsibility to help our residents be successful,” Humphrey said.
A little more than half of those filling the dorms this year are incoming freshmen, such as twins Cristina and Erica Alfrey of Indio. Cristina Alfrey said she picked Stanislaus because of its size. “I like that it’s a smaller campus. You get to know more people – not just their names, but really know them,” she said.
Also in the dorms this year are junior transfers such as Nicholas Dahm of Concord. Dahm, starting his second semester, said having health services and a library in his backyard was a big plus for campus housing. “I love how it’s so close to your classes. I could sleep in,” he said, adding that he was anxious to meet his instructors Thursday.
Freshman Mari Blancas of Corning said she was mostly nervous about the start of classes. “I’m not trying to think of it as a big deal. If I stay calm, I’m OK,” she said.