A History of the Concord Campus
California State University, East Bay
The Concord Campus of California State University, East Bay started with a modest beginning in the fall of 1981 at
a site vacated by Pleasant Hill High School. This public institution of higher learning was eagerly greeted by an
ever-expanding, geographically challenged, population living in Central and East Contra Costa County and
Southern Solano County.
Offering basic upper division courses in Liberal Studies and Business Administration, graduate courses in Public
Administration, Education and Counseling, along with teaching credentials and continuing education certificate
programs, the campus was soon flourishing with students, faculty and staff.
As enrollment increased with a broadening field of degree options, sights were focused on building a new facility to
house the campus. The rented facilities at the old high school included the original library, several classrooms, and
two offices. Registration was accomplished in the library, where all of the tables were lined up to accommodate the
long lines of registering students.
The Trustees of the CSU system approved building a permanent campus in Concord in 1986 on land purchased by
the state in the 1970’s. The former Cowell Ranch, which included 386 acres of rolling farmland near Lime Ridge
Open Space, was to be the site for the new Contra Costa Campus.
1991 was a pivotal year in the campus’ evolution: the 10th anniversary of the Contra Costa Campus and the year in
which construction began on what would be the first permanent branch campus in the CSU. Community leaders
and public officials were very influential in obtaining the funding and support for the land and construction of the
new campus. Dean Lesher, Contra Costa Times publisher and member of the California State University Board of
Trustees, was a prime mover for the project. State Senator Dan Boatwright played a pivotal role in securing state
The campus in Concord opened in fall of 1992 with 90,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, laboratories, a
library, computer lab, student center, and art studio provided twice the space found at the old high school site. The
new campus was dedicated by Norma Rees, Cal State Hayward’s President and Barry Munitz, Chancellor for the
entire California State University System, on May 7, 1993.
A critical component in the success of the campus has been the relationship that has been cultivated with the four
area community colleges: Diablo Valley College, Los Medanos College, Contra Costa College and Solano
Community College. In 1994, both Diablo Valley College and Los Medanos College began offering classes at the
Contra Costa Campus, providing their students with an opportunity to experience the Campus while attending
community college classes. This has proven to be an ideal and seamless transition from community college
freshman and sophomore level courses to the Campus’s junior, senior and graduate level courses.
The City of Concord was eager to have a public four-year university within their community, providing affordable
higher education and cultural enrichment for their citizenry. Collaboration with the City of Concord has been vital for
the campus’ success. In 1996, talks began between the two entities about the utilization of undeveloped acreage
on the east side of the campus for sports fields for the growing Concord community. In 1997, President Norm a
Rees signed a lease with the city. The fields were completed for use in 2000. There are currently 2600 youth
utilizing the field on a regular basis.
California State University, Hayward became California State University, East Bay in January 2005. The campus in
Concord, at this opportune time, changed its name to the Concord Campus.
Cal State East Bay has long been a leader in distance learning technology, much to the benefit of the Concord
Campus. The first interactive distance learning classroom was complete in 1993; the second in 1994. This was a
major development for the campus, as students now had “virtual” access to courses at the Hayward campus and
other sites. This provided an opportunity for students on both campuses to attend courses that may not have the
minimum required at one of the sites. Dual campus courses were set up with professors alternating in-room
presence between the campuses in Hayward and Concord. Recent technological improvements include the
development of “Smart Classrooms” – complete with internet, video, and projection capabilities; and campus-wide
Campus staff and faculty have been actively involved in collaborative efforts with industry, area community colleges
and K-12 institutions. Highlights include connecting the Concord Campus with the Contra Costa
Business/Education Collaborative with specific efforts involving biotech, environmental science, and health-related
industry clusters. The campus was honored in May 2004 as Higher Education Partner of the Year for these efforts.
Building on decades of community college outreach, campus recruiters recently added outreach to the County’s
high school population to their areas of focus. They are being warmly welcomed by high school counselors and
In 2003, the first Day of the Teacher Conference attracted more than 150 participants considering or new to careers
in teaching. This day-long event included panel discussions by first and second-year teachers, presentations by
premier teachers in local school districts, workshops on effective classroom management, time management and
interview skills, presentations, motivating “at-risk” students, building caring classrooms, pathways to teaching, and
thematic teaching. This annual program has continued with great success. Many of the teachers in Contra Costa
County received their credentials in the Concord Campus’ teacher credential program.
In the summer of 2000, “The Concert in the Hills Series” was inaugurated with three free music concerts and was
offered to students, faculty, staff and the community-at-large. Crowds of 200-400 gathered to appreciate the
experience. Community cultivation increased in 2001 with the expansion to seven free monthly concerts. The
Contra Costa Times donated advertising space to help get the word out. The Clayton Business and Community
Association provided monetary support for the series. Chevron rose to the occasion, providing monetary support as
presenting sponsor. In 2002, Astound Broadband became presenting sponsor. By 2003, the Concert in the Hills
Series started to truly take on a life of its own. More than 6500 people attended over the course of the six-concert
series. Business sponsors not only provided funding, but also television commercials, newspaper advertising and
brochure paper and printing. The free music series has become a summer tradition for families and music
aficionados from all over the region and continues to bring new audiences to the campus.
The Longs Foundation has consistently provided scholarships for Concord Campus students since 1990. In Spring
2004, seven continuing students were awarded Longs Scholarships. The Dean’s Scholarship fund was founded in
2003. The first scholarship was awarded in Spring 2004 to an excellent student who has demonstrated a
commitment to community leadership. In Winter 2005, Walnut Creek Honda contributed to support scholarships for
the first FastTrack Teacher Preparation Cohort starting in Fall 2005. Recent scholarships include a contribution
from Roger and Judy Haughton in support of a scholarship for nursing students; and PMI Group contributed to
support a scholarship for business majors. Expansion of scholarship opportunities remains a high priority for the
Other community cultivation efforts have included the “Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series” featuring lectures by
premier Cal State East Bay faculty and other area experts; and film nights highlighting rare footage from an on-
campus film archive, and presented by a CSUEB communications professor.
Emeriti faculty created and began the SCHOLAR program for the 50 plus crowd in 2000. Supported largely by the
Continuing Education department, most programs took place at the Concord Campus and are presented by
volunteer emeriti faculty. SCHOLAR has a minimal budget for printing and occasional honoraria but little else, while
participation increased each year. 2003 was a turning point. The Bernard Osher Foundation provided a $100,000
grant to support the program as a lifelong learning institute, now named Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Cal
State East Bay. These funds allowed the program to expand tremendously. Annual grants were also received in
2004, 2005, and 2006, with a culminating endowment of $1,000,000 to provide on-going support.
In Fall 2005, Concord Campus Dean Peter Wilson assembled the Concord Campus Board of Councilors, an
advisory group of community, education and business leaders, to assist in the planning and support for the campus
as it develops. The Board currently has fourteen members. Many of them have had years of involvement with the
Concord Campus prior to the Board’s creation, and their continued ideas and support have been greatly
Starting in the fall of 2004, the Concord Campus embarked on a comprehensive long-range planning process. Two
groups are involved in this process: a task force to address the campus’ programmatic needs, and a committee to
develop a facilities master plan taking the entire 386 acres of campus property into consideration.
The program-focused Strategic Planning Task Force included representatives from each of the University’s
colleges, administrative departments, student services, students, staff, and local community colleges. They
analyzed past and current programmatic activity, regional economic and population studies, enrollment projections,
and the unique relationship between the Concord and Hayward campuses. Resulting initiatives and plans include
academic programs, extended university programs, instructional and student support, personnel needs, resource
requirements and funding alternatives, and a timeline for implementation. The Program Task Force has completed
their report and many of their recommendations have already been implemented.
The Concord Campus Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee includes representatives from the campus and
surrounding communities. They are examining enrollment and programmatic projections along with a physical
analysis of the site, and develop plans for facilities and surrounding area land use. This plan will provide a
benchmark for the development of the Concord Campus, and will also guide the assessment of opportunities for
the creation of facilities and partnerships.
The Concord Campus currently has nearly 1800 students. They are mainly female (70%) with an average age of
34 years. Most students are working full-time and attend classes in the evenings. Often they have been out of
school for a while, for career or family, and are finally finishing off their bachelor’s degree or starting their master’s.
Students are extremely focused on their academic efforts and complement their wealth of life experience with their
new educational endeavor.
Academic offerings at the Concord Campus have expanded through the years. Currently ten bachelor’s and six
master’s degrees, teaching credentials, and certificate programs are being offered. Bachelor’s degrees include
Business Administration, Criminal Justice Administration, English, History, Human Development, Liberal Studies,
Nursing, Psychology, Recreation and Sociology. Master’s degrees include Business Administration, Counseling,
Education, Educational Leadership, Public Administration, and Social Work. A new education program, the Fast-
Track Teacher Education Program began in fall 2005. This very popular program is designed for liberal studies
majors who would like an intensive program allowing them to complete their Bachelor’s degree and teaching
credential in four years.
New degree programs began in Fall 2006 including the Bachelor’s in History, the Minor in Early Childhood
Education, the option of Early Childhood Development under the Bachelor’s in Human Development. Faculty from
the History Department, Human Development, Social Work and Nursing are based at the Concord Campus.
Pivotal in the equation is the addition of the Bachelor’s in Nursing program (the RN to BSN program has previously
been available). A sophomore cohort of 44 began courses in Fall 2006 with another sophomore cohort of 65 cohort
starting in Fall 2007. In addition, freshman pre-nursing courses will be offered starting in Fall 2008, allowing
students to accomplish all four years at the Concord Campus. John Muir Health has been instrumental in
supporting this program with a grant of $1.7M. New clinical facilities and faculty offices now provide necessary
physical space, while three resident nursing faculty will focus on the Concord cohorts.
The future for the Concord Campus is very bright. The population of the region is dramatically increasing, and the
demand for public higher education and a well-trained workforce is ever-expanding. The campus is eager to move
ahead; we look forward to planning for the road before us.