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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Plans are in place at SDSU Imperial Valley to develop a 65,000 square foot Innovation Campus to house science, technology, chemistry, engineering and mathematics programming. Plans are in place at SDSU Imperial Valley to develop a 65,000 square foot Innovation Campus to house science, technology, chemistry, engineering and mathematics programming.

Gov. Newsom Proposes $80M Investment in SDSU Imperial Valley Site

Proposal includes historic levels of funding for SDSU Imperial Valley, which would generate extensive educational and economic opportunities aligned with the larger Lithium Valley vision.
By SDSU News Team

In his May Budget Revise, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that he has included $80 million in new funding – significant, historic funding – for an San Diego State University facility in Imperial Valley that will drastically expand educational, research, and economic development opportunities in Imperial County. 

“We are dealing with the workforce in a way that I am really excited about – working with San Diego State University,” Newsom said during his May 13 address to announce the May Revise. “They are looking at investing in a center to develop a pathway for locals. I love this. So often, when the next gold rush comes in, it goes to the pockets of fancy folks and doesn’t go back to the community. We are trying to avoid that.” 

The budget proposal now moves to the Legislature for consideration for approval. 
“On behalf of our entire SDSU community, I am extremely grateful for the support of Gov. Newsom – this is unprecedented, and the time to capture the promise this initiative holds for the future is now,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre

“I am fully on board with the immediate need to invest in the Valley to create these workforce pipelines and opportunities for students and families – residents of the Valley first,” de la Torre said. 

The announcement follow’s SDSU’s plan, and existing institutional investments, to redevelop SDSU Imperial Valley’s Brawley campus into a 65,000 square foot Innovation Campus to house science, technology, chemistry, engineering and mathematics programming. The existing plan, which would support efforts to enhance California’s clean energy sector, calls for the development of: 
  • 25,000 square feet to be dedicated to labs and core facilities with major instruments, and include space to collaborate with both public and private partners 
  • 20,000 square feet of STEM-focused classroom and teaching laboratory spaces 
  • 10,000 square feet of office space.
SDSU has already invested $15 million toward the plan and, under de la Torre’s leadership over the last four years, has expanded the range of new programs and offerings at SDSU Imperial Valley. 

Newsom’s announcement of support also comes just days after SDSU announced that Guillermina Gina Núñez-Mchiri has been appointed the new dean for SDSU Imperial Valley, effective August 4. 

Also, the university has reinstated 4-year programs and added new degree options at SDSU Imperial Valley, including its first STEM majors, expanded financial support for new faculty and staff hires and added student support services, among other initiatives. Specifically, faculty hiring has increased by 350% as compared to 2018 at SDSU Imperial Valley and the university’s first STEM program – a B.A. in mathematics – began in Fall 2021 while a new four-year nursing program, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), is planned for Fall 2022. 

Such developments and other efforts are part of a major strategic effort to expand the campus to meet the new and developing needs in Imperial County, notably with a focus on STEM-specific expansion aligned with the current and future workforce of the Valley. 

“This initiative cannot happen without the same public-private partnerships we will model at SDSU Mission Valley,” de la Torre said.  

To date, SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley have received letters of support from about 40 education, industry, community and other partners from across the state and in Imperial County. They include a resolution of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors and others by Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. 

“SDSU’s expansion plan for an Innovation District and investment in STEM programs goes hand in hand with other Imperial County initiatives that will need well-educated students for their workforces, and its proximity to Imperial County’s lithium recovery operations creates an ideal location for STEM research and curriculum,” Jonathan M. Weisgall, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs, wrote in a support letter. 

Timothy E. Kelley, president and CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC), also wrote in support. 

“IVEDC strongly supports the development of a San Diego State University STEM research and workforce development campus project in Brawley, which would be enormously helpful to ESM and other Salton Sea Lithium developers,” Kelley wrote. 
“Comite Civico del Valle is extremely excited about the Governor's proposal to build a new SDSU STEM facility in Brawley,” said Comite's Executive Director Luis Olmedo. “In coalition with SDSU, CCV advocated aggressively to ensure that Imperial Valley students with a career interest in our local clean energy economy be provided the educational opportunity to attain a homegrown job that not only contributes to combating climate change, but also fighting local air pollution.”

Newsom’s support also reflects the university’s existing strengths in the very disciplines needed to drive economic development in the Valley, particularly around lithium developments. 

“We are proud to already have nationally-recognized and accredited programs producing analytical chemists, environmental, electrical and civil engineers and experts in accounting and finance – and those representing many other STEM disciplines – which will be well positioned to drive the educational, workforce and industry partnership potential of Lithium Valley,” de la Torre said.