California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis joined UC Riverside Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and other campus leaders on Friday, June 17, while discussing classroom space needs as the student population continues to grow.
“It’s wonderful to be back on campus,” said Kounalakis, who visited the UCR in 2019 while a candidate. The lieutenant governor is a member of the UC Board of Regents.
Wilcox and Gerry Bomotti, vice chancellor for Planning, Budget and Administration, along with a visit to the Student Success Center. They noted that in less than a year since it opened it has become a popular space for student learning and activity, hosting up to 2,000 students at a time in lecture halls, study spaces, and meeting rooms.
“This has been a great addition to the campus,” said Wilcox. “It just helps the whole campus (to show) ‘Look at this, we’re moving forward’.”
They stopped talking in the building’s 400-seat round lecture hall, the only one of its kind on campus. It includes swivel chairs that allow students to fully engage in circle discussions while in group discussions, a feature admired by Kounalakis.
“What a smart change,” she said, noting that traditional lecture halls might seem rigid.
While the new building has helped, Wilcox and Bomotti described how the UCR still has a deficit of about 4,400 classroom seats and lags behind other campuses to make up that deficit.
Some buildings date back to the 1950s and 1960s and still utilize their original plumbing and mechanics, Bomotti said. Due to the space crunch, classes are scheduled from 8 am until 10 pm UCR also continues to use classes for the University Village movie theater, an inconvenience for students and faculty members due to its distance from campus. Kounalakis visited the site as part of her tour.
Another challenge they discussed was rising construction costs. The cost of building a new school business has gone from about $ 60 million, when planning began in early 2020, to about $ 87 million, Bomotti said.
A state bill, introduced by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, would provide UCR and UC Merced $ 1.46 billion to build new classrooms, hire staff, and address other needs. UC has also requested $ 31.5 million in annual funding for targeted student services and $ 4 million for cancer research, plus $ 1.5 billion in additional capital outlay funding for $ 1.6 billion of critical deferred maintenance, seismic renovations, energy efficiency, and academic ability. General Chat Chat Lounge
As part of her visit, Kounalakis also toured the Center for Environmental Research and Technology, or CE-CERT, where she spent time talking to students. At the Multidisciplinary Research Center she met with a delegation from Argentina, on campus to discuss the lithium industry, which also included the lieutenant governor of the province of Catamarca.
“It was wonderful to be back at UC Riverside where I had the opportunity to learn directly from graduate students about innovative projects and solutions to the climate challenges we all face,” she said. “Between micro-grid systems, hydrogen powered heavy-duty vehicle research, and the impact of emissions on atmospheric research, the work of the CE-CERT facility cannot be overstated.”