Riding a wave of increasing enrollment, officials at William Jessup University will break ground Tuesday on a 50,000-square-foot expansion of the Rocklin campus.
The intimate Christian campus environment projected to be at 847 students this fall offers an increasingly attractive option to state schools besieged by overcrowding and fee hikes, school officials said.
"You can get in, and you can get your classes," said Gene De Young, the school's vice president for finance and administration.
The $17 million expansion is actually a renovation project. The campus, which moved to Rocklin in 2004, occupies an old Herman Miller Furniture Factory. A lightly used, 50,000-square-foot warehouse will be turned into six separate buildings housing an athletics facility, dining buildings, music recital space and classrooms. Projected to be completed for the fall 2012 semester, it will yield 54,000 square feet of usable space.
The work continues the original renovation designed by Russell Taylor of Taylor Teter Partnership. The team helped turn the award-winning Frank Gehry-designed factory into a celebrated reuse of the space. The modest-sized campus blends warm colors with an Ikea touch.
On a spring tour of the campus, students eating lunch could be seen crammed into a small dining room or under a shade covering connecting two buildings. Meals were prepared in two portable buildings under the eaves. The warehouse, with bay windows facing south toward Highway 65, houses a modest basketball court crammed between pillars, weightlifting equipment and a dodge ball court.
The Church Development Fund will finance the project for the independently run campus. The school, with help from its board of directors, will run a fundraising campaign to offset some of the costs, De Young said.
Enrollment has benefited from the recent closure of San Jose's Bethany University. But Eric Hogue, who recently came on board as the vice president for advancement, said the campus momentum is not just a temporary blip.
Enrollment increased 25 percent in 2009 and 2010. It's projected to grow another 17 percent this fall.
The university has expanded its liberal arts offerings to 14 degrees and boasts a 16-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Classrooms are new and equipped with the latest technology. A year's tuition will be $21,800 for 2011-12, with room and board at $8,640.
The campus is not for everyone. Officials make no bones about the fact that it is a faith-based institution.
Students at the nondenominational Christian school are expected to adhere to an honor code that addresses appropriate dress, off-campus activities, online behavior and premarital sex. Students are also required to engage in off-campus community service activities.
De Young said the expansion just scratches the surface of what officials hope will be a 5,000-student campus. "It seems like the only thing that is going to stop the growth is our inability to accommodate the growth," he said.