Education

Sacramento State to house private college program for $1 million annually

Angie and Pajo Bruich remove the braces from daughter Portia before she walks on a mini-treadmill at California State University, Sacramento, assisted by doctor of physical therapy students Autumn Huey, left, and Sarah Christiansen in 2013. The STEPS program and physical therapy department are housed in Folsom Hall, where CSUS officials have agreed to lease out space to private college California Northstate University.
Angie and Pajo Bruich remove the braces from daughter Portia before she walks on a mini-treadmill at California State University, Sacramento, assisted by doctor of physical therapy students Autumn Huey, left, and Sarah Christiansen in 2013. The STEPS program and physical therapy department are housed in Folsom Hall, where CSUS officials have agreed to lease out space to private college California Northstate University. Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento State nursing and physical therapy students will soon share space with students from a private university.

CSUS has agreed to lease out the third floor of Folsom Hall, located just south of the campus, to California Northstate University College of Health Sciences. The private school, which has a pharmacy college and will soon open a medical school in Elk Grove, plans to offer a health sciences undergraduate program in the building.

The 10-year lease for the 56,000-square-foot space will net $1 million annually for Sacramento State’s general fund, said Mike Lee, Sacramento State’s chief financial officer. The lease, signed in December, also allows for a 12,000-square-foot space in the parking lot where there will be modular labs.

The arrangement isn’t common, although Cal State Fullerton leases space to Western State College of Law and CSU Pomona has an agreement with Kaplan Test Prep, Lee said.

“CSUS and all the campuses are trying very hard to generate additional revenues so we can strengthen our programs and do maintenance to keep our facilities in good shape,” Lee said. “This is a project that can generate revenue that can benefit the entire university.”

The lease agreement isn’t sitting well with the faculty association and some professors on campus.

Kevin Wehr, president of the Sacramento chapter of the California Faculty Association, called the lease “ill advised” and said the union is concerned the university will lose enrollment and faculty members will lose work if Sacramento State students sign up for classes at the private university.

Administrators at both Sacramento State and California Northstate University said their programs are different and aren’t in competition.

Sacramento State’s health sciences degree focuses on community health education, occupational health and safety, and health care administration, according to Sacramento State officials. “Our program does not lead directly to pharmacy, medical or dental school,” said Phil Garcia, CSUS vice president of public affairs and advocacy.

The California Northstate degree prepares students for medical school and related fields. The university sees its health sciences program in Folsom Hall as a pipeline to its medical and pharmacy schools, Lee said.

The schools’ programs do overlap slightly in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. There is some replication in the pre-pharmacy track in chemistry, the pre-medicine track in biology and the pre-dental track in biology, according to Sacramento State officials.

Some faculty members feel left out of the decision-making process and say they can’t tell whether the private university will conflict with CSUS programs because they lack information about the details of the lease.

“We don’t know how the lease will be utilized, how much space they will use and how it will impact parking,” said Ed Barakatt, director of the physical therapy department. “We try to have shared governance at Sacramento State and there was no attempt to include us in the process.”

Barakatt is among a group of faculty members that has asked the Faculty Senate to set up a meeting with the administration to go over the particulars of the lease. The Faculty Senate is expected to vote on the request.

Folsom Hall has been a flashpoint before.

The building is owned by University Enterprises Inc., one of five Sacramento State auxiliary organizations. It was purchased from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System for $35.3 million in 2007.

University leaders agreed to begin paying a $5.7 million annual lease on the 188,098-square-foot building in 2009 while it stood empty. This angered professors who were furloughed during the recession.

The university moved its School of Nursing into the second floor of the building in January 2011, followed by the physical therapy department in the fall of 2013. The speech pathology and audiology department is scheduled to move into the building in two to three years after gaining approval for and completing construction on improvements on the second floor.

California Northstate University expects to move into Folsom Hall as soon as its new program receives accreditation. The lease will begin no later than November, according to the lease.

“This building has been a good home to several of our departments,” Wehr said. “Much of it has been empty for too long, so filling the building to 100 percent capacity with tenants is a good move. But I’m not sure these are the right tenants for us to do business with.”

California Northstate University officials decided to move to Folsom Hall in order to separate their undergraduate program and graduate schools, said Paul Wagstaffe, general counsel at California Northstate University. He said that the close proximity to another campus would “stimulate academic dialogues and interactions.”

Both Wagstaffe and Lee expressed interest in some sort of collaboration between the universities in the future.

Northstate University College of Health Sciences is expected to serve 100 to 200 students its first year and grow every year thereafter. Wagstaffe said there is a growth plan, but couldn’t say how many students the college anticipates over time. The university hasn’t yet posted its tuition for the program. Tuition and fees for first-year doctor of pharmacy students in 2015-16 is listed at $47,596.

Call The Bee’s Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert.

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