Students at San Diego State University are one step closer to enjoying a new Hillel facility.
It was a long time in the making, Hillel at San Diego State University is finally one giant step closer to its dream of a new building on campus. Just days after Hillel at the University of California, San Diego won approval to purchase land for its own new center last month, Hillel at SDSU finalized a deal to secure two lots on which to construct a more “campus-centric” facility that will better serve the university’s vibrant Jewish community.
The road to a new Hillel building at SDSU began 18 years ago, when the university embarked upon a major redevelopment project. A largely commuter school, the project aimed to create a more residential feel on campus by adding student apartments and retail space, as well as new space for campus religious organizations. But the plan hit several snags over the years as it passed through the hands of many different developers, and much of the project was put on hold. Though Hillel at SDSU student leaders, professionals and students became frustrated with the delays, they decided it would be best to stick with the university’s plan rather than try to find land and build a facility on their own.
“Because of the nature of this project, we wanted to be in that core area where much of the construction would take place,” said Jackie Tolley, the director of Hillel at SDSU.
But during the past year the SDSU Foundation’s oversight was being challenged by the University itself, and those changes made it possible for Hillel at SDSU to work the SDSU Foundation and the Wesley Foundation, a Methodist student organization, to obtain their properties. After agreeing to swap land with the SDSU Foundation and purchase the Wesley Foundation’s lot, Hillel at SDSU finally had the land for a new 10,000-square-foot building.
“It is an excellent location, just one street north of our current well-used, well-loved facility, but one which we outgrew long ago,” Tolley said. “We’re excited to now create a building that will carry us into the future as our program evolves.”
Hillel at SDSU first commissioned plans for a building more than 10 years ago, but with the big changes in technology that have occurred since then, they will have to back to the drawing board. For example, the original plans included a computer lab, but with the abundance and popularity of wireless Internet access now, the lab may already be obsolete, Tolley said.
But before construction can begin, Hillel of San Diego, the umbrella organization for the Hillels at UCSD and SDSU, along with other local campuses, must launch a capital campaign, which will run simultaneously with the campaign for the Hillel at UCSD facility. It may seem like a tall order, but Tolley says Hillel of San Diego is up for the challenge. And if the going gets tough, they need look no further than their eager students for inspiration.
“Needless to say, students are thrilled that even though they may not be on campus when the building is finished, the students who follow will get the benefits – and they’ll be anxious to come and visit and see our new Hillel!” she said.