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The ABCs of the ELB

CSUSM’s Extended Learning Building Expands Access to Premier Education Options

Extended Learning Building Cover

With its official opening on Aug. 26, 2019, CSUSM’s Extended Learning building moved from first shovel to first class in just 16 months. As the largest academic building on campus, the 135,000-square-foot EL building (ELB) brings all Extended Learning operations  under one roof for the first time, including degree programs, global education, career and customized business training, online education, lifelong learning courses and more.

The new facility—which includes a 709-space parking structure and a pedestrian bridge—also becomes home to a number of CSUSM academic departments, student support centers, community outreach centers, lab and research facilities, and imaginative learning spaces such as the STEM Education Center and the CSUSM Corp Innovation Hub. Open floor plans with flexible configurations enable the programs in the building to meet the educational needs of an expanding campus and community for many years.

“This multifunction space is going to create opportunities for the campus to leverage as a resource to grow programs,” says Bella Newberg, executive director of CSUSM Corporation. “Having flexible space is an asset to the campus as a whole. This model really is the future.”

With every college at CSUSM represented in the facility and programs serving individuals from first-year undergraduates to lifelong learners, the ELB is a comprehensive education center designed to bridge disciplines and inspire innovation. Located in the North City development in San Marcos, the building extends CSUSM’s campus by two acres and serves as a gateway between campus and community.

An entrepreneurial venture from the start, the ELB is the first academic building in California established through a unique public-private partnership, which required no state funds for its design, planning or construction.

“This public-private partnership reimagines how we can build campuses and integrate education within our communities,” says Mike Schroder, dean of Extended Learning. “The EL building has been meticulously designed to serve every student on our campus and to serve the community as well.”

Learn more about why the Extended Learning building (ELB) is at the forefront of education today and a model for lifelong learning.


First-year students make regular use of the accessible pathway and pedestrian bridge that connects upper campus directly to all of the student support centers, which have moved from separate locations on campus to a single floor of the Extended Learning building. During the 2018-19 academic year, CSUSM students made more than 54,000 visits to the STEM Student Success Center, Math Lab, Writing Center, and Academic Success Center. “Being in one location together is going to generate some meaningful changes that we can’t fully anticipate yet,” says Dawn Formo, dean of Undergraduate Studies.


Located in the North City development in San Marcos, the Extended Learning building not only expands the CSUSM campus by two acres, but it increases access to CSUSM’s unique educational resources in North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties. Never has it been easier to get a degree, career training, a professional certificate or an individual course, all in one space. From the Twin Oaks Valley Road exit on State Route 78, students are just minutes from their seats in the EL building.


The largest academic building on CSUSM’s campus, the ELB was carefully planned to serve a variety of needs at CSUSM. It includes 13 classrooms, ranging from 18 to 120 seats; biology, kinesiology and nursing skills labs; a computer and cybersecurity lab; and 14 conference, study and presentation spaces. Classrooms are flexible, many with whiteboard partition walls that open to larger spaces enabling integrated audio/video to broadcast simultaneously. Open floor plans encourage collaboration between departments and fill learning spaces with natural light. An industrial aesthetic—from polished concrete floors to open ceilings—ensures durability for the high use anticipated in the building. 


With the customized training programs available through Extended Learning, businesses can offer their employees the next-level knowledge they need to develop the skills that will boost their expertise and the business’s bottom line. We can develop a new program or adapt one of our popular programs such as supervising employees or software applications. Businesses and organizations can consider the EL building their training headquarters, or we can deliver training to any location in the region. Custom Training 


Summer conference and space rental is available in the ELB. Rooms are equipped with leading-edge technology and a range of seating capacities. Located in San Marcos’ North City, the EL building is within minutes of two major highways and adjacent to a parking garage, making it a convenient venue for any event. Summer Conferences


Once scattered across campus, Extended Learning operations are under one roof for the first time. As the academic outreach branch for CSUSM, Extended Learning tailors its programs to the unique needs of its students and includes undergraduate and graduate degrees, professional certificates and certification exam preparation, online education, customized training for businesses and lifelong learning programs. Programs are flexible and ideal for working individuals who need an accelerated pathway to premier education options.


A thriving international community at CSUSM is a priority, bringing new perspectives and insights into every discipline on campus. With a centralized hub for all international programs in the EL building, Global Programs and Services is able to build continuity and synergy across programs in one shared space for the first time, from the American Language and Culture Institute to study abroad. Whether a student’s international experience lasts a few weeks or a full academic year, it is life-changing for the individual, which in turn enriches the CSUSM community. Global Programs 


A critical component of education is advancing new knowledge and, in that spirit, the ELB is home to two centers of innovation. The Center for Research and Engagement in STEM Education works to improve educational outcomes for students in the region and to generate new knowledge related to STEM education practices. The CSUSM Corp Innovation Hub—in the developmental phase—will encourage entrepreneurship by providing a working space for students, faculty, staff and members of industry to purposefully take ideas developed in the classroom to a real-world conclusion, whether it’s a product, a creative pursuit, a business concept or a solution for an issue in the community. 


With programs representing every college on CSUSM’s campus, the ELB is a forward-looking  education center designed to encourage collaboration among disciplines. Faculty and students in business, the health sciences, science and technology, education, language and culture, the public sector and more share this space, creating the potential for new education pathways. In addition, students in the EL building cover the learning spectrum from first-year students to mid-career professionals to lifelong learners, broadening perspectives in the community as a whole.


Six new lab spaces in the ELB serve students with leading-edge technology: the nursing skills lab, two biology labs, two kinesiology labs, and the computer and cybersecurity lab. The kinesiology lab on the ground level features a roll-up door and 18-foot ceilings, opening the possibility of movement-science research that requires large-scale equipment such as skate ramps. The building’s location in North City also creates easier access for local industry and individuals to participate in community-based research. 


The Extended Learning building is located in North City, a mixed-use development adjacent to CSUSM’s campus featuring upscale eateries and entertainment as well as residential facilities, including the Quad, affiliated student housing directly across the street from the EL building. North City is growing, with a number of projects in progress and plans for more commercial development to come. As part of this development, the first floor of the ELB includes space for up to nine retailers. 


A six-level parking structure adjacent to the EL building creates convenient access for all students and patrons. The structure has 709 parking spaces, including timed retail spaces, ADA spaces and spaces dedicated to CSUSM and North City. CSUSM permits are valid in designated spaces. Visitors can pay via a phone app or the pay station on the first level. A new pedestrian bridge over Barham Drive along with a new accessible pathway up Campus Way easily links the ELB to upper campus. 


In 2018-19, speech-language pathology graduate students provided more than 4,800 hours of free speech-language, communication, cognitive and swallowing consultation in the Speech- Language Center located off campus in San Marcos. Relocating to the Extended Learning building, students not only benefit from an expanded space but from upgraded facilities, such as a simulation theater and dedicated mannequins, a simulation kitchen, and learning spaces with the highest sound ratings in the building to enhance instruction. 


The Extended Learning building stands as a testament to the collective commitment of university, government and business leaders to the students at CSUSM. As the first academic building in California established through a public-private partnership, no state funds were used in the design, planning or construction of the project. “This public-private partnership reimagines how we can build campuses and integrate education within our communities,” says Mike Schroder, dean of Extended Learning. “The EL building has been meticulously designed to serve every student on our campus and to serve the community as well.” 

TECH 411

This multiuse building features forward-thinking room design and technology geared for flexibility, sustainability and compatibility well into the future. Classroom projectors are 4K and conference and presentation rooms feature 4K TVs, some with touch-screen capability. Individuals can stream presentations and other education materials directly to the TV from their phone or device without an app. Every classroom has a mobile instructor station with a touch-screen display and digital pen for annotation. The building also features a Voice over Internet Protocol phone system, 89 WiFi access points and nine digital signage displays.


You can transform teaching, learning, discovery and patient care.

Your contribution empowers students to be leaders in their professions and our community, and gives faculty the technology and resources needed to solve critical challenges. The EL building is a place of innovation, insight, and regional and international collaboration. Your investment in programs and activities in the ELB will support infrastructure and projects, research initiatives and educational opportunities. You can also help sustain and enhance CSUSM’s commitment to lifelong learning with a gift to name spaces dedicated to student academic success, research and skills-training labs, and entrepreneurship. Contact us to see how you can help advance innovation today. University Advancement: 760-750-4400 or