SAN DIEGO - Almost 11,000 new students began the fall semester Monday at San Diego State University, while others started classes in the North County at Cal State San Marcos and Point Loma Nazarene University.
Around 8,500 new undergraduates and 2,200 new graduate students are joining the SDSU student body, out of a record 83,000 applicants last fall.
"This is a time of unprecedented opportunity for San Diego State," said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.
"Through our collaborative campus efforts, we have made extraordinary progress in our core areas of student success, research and creative endeavors, and community and communication," Hirshman said. "I am excited about the initiatives we will pursue in the coming year and our prospects for achieving even greater excellence and distinction."
SDSU also is welcoming 51 new tenured and tenure-track faculty members, some coming from academic institutions like Harvard, Columbia, Cambridge, Emory and UC Berkeley.
Construction activity is continuing on campus, with work on an Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex scheduled to open in a little over one year, an overhaul of Centennial Mall, building of a new campus gateway at Campanile Drive and the addition of amenities at the Open Air Theatre.
Off campus, work is winding down on South Campus Plaza, where 600 students will live beginning in January. The complex will also include a Trader Joe's, a Eureka! restaurant and several other dining and retail offerings still to be finalized.
At Cal State San Marcos, a total of 15,000 students began classes, the highest in the school's 26-year history.
The big event this week will be Thursday, when grand opening ceremonies will be held for The Sports Center, the school's first on-campus arena. The Cougars basketball and volleyball teams, which are making the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II, had played off campus.
"It's already a game-changer for our athletic department and teams," said Morod Shah, associate director of athletics, facilities and operations, and director of the 1,400-seat facility. "But it will also be a game-changer for our campus and community."
The women's volleyball team will host the first sports event at the center Thursday at 4 p.m. against La Sierra University of Riverside.
Classes begin at the University of San Diego on Wednesday, and at UC San Diego on Sept. 22.