Should a California State University Be Built in Susanville?

Because of the overcrowding and high-priced housing in the Silicon Valley, a major technology company recently decided to move its headquarters to a quiet section of Lassen County just outside of Susanville. Several other companies have followed its example and have settled in the same vicinity.

The relocation of these businesses in this area is changing the population and types of people who are moving to this previously small, rural area. More college graduates are needed to fill the professional positions that are needed in these industries, and the children of these new residents will have to travel to get to a branch of the California State University. As a result, the California State University has decided to consider opening a branch in the area that would serve the not only Lassen County, but also Modoc, Plumas and Siskiyou counties by including courses of study that would help the residents of all of the counties of the northeastern corner of California. See the need by reviewing the map of existing California State University Campuses

View Teacher Notes

The Task

You have been asked to be part of a committee that will plan the new university. It is important that all aspects of the community are considered when creating the course studies of the school. These questions will all need to be researched thoroughly to be sure that the university will be approved by the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees:

  • Does your plan for the university show knowledge of the background and history of the California State University system and does the plan for your college meet the requirements of the mission statement for all institutions in the California State University system?
  • Have all of the majors and minors needed by residents of this area been included in the Academic program?
  • Will graduates of nearby community colleges find programs that will allow them to continue work in their chosen fields?

The Process

Your class will be divided into three groups, one to consider each of the questions above. A member of each group will be then be chosen to form a final presentation committee to combine the findings of all the committees and present them to the Chancellor.

Group 1 will read about the history of the California State Universities and its mission statement. This group must be able to convince the Chancellor/Board of Trustees that the new university will meet the goals that have been established for all schools within the system. It will be necessary to address the points in the Mission Statement and explain why you think your academic program will satisfy them.

Group 2‘s job will be to examine the current industries of Lassen and surrounding counties and list the jobs that need to be filled there that will require a college education. It will be important to consider the new industries and the skills that will be needed by future employees. What other college-trained professionals will be needed in order to provide services for the increased population (school, libraries, medical and dental services, etc.)? What courses of studies will the university need to offer to be able to train workers for these professions?

It will be helpful to look at the majors offered by other branches of the California State University that are in areas with similar needs. What majors does a school like San Jose State College offer to provide training for the workers in Silicon Valley? What other universities have similar agricultural and cultural areas and what courses of study do they provide?

It will be this group’s responsibility to make a list of majors and minors that should provide appropriate course studies for the students in this area that will be attending this school. Members of the group will need to be prepared to defend their choices of programs.

Group 3 will examine the areas of course study offered at the closest Community Colleges. What are the areas of specialization offered there? When students complete their studies at these colleges, many will want to continue at a four-year college in order to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Does your plan for your college include programs that will allow them to do that while staying relatively close to home? Make a list of the programs offered by these Community Colleges and your recommendations for continuing studies.

Each group should make neat, well-written charts to show the results of their research, and these will be shared with the entire class at a “town meeting” type of gathering. Each committee will present its findings, and members of all groups should be allowed to ask questions and brainstorm ideas.

Each committee will then select one member to represent them on the Presentation Committee. This committee will create a final presentation based on the findings of all the three committees and the suggestions made at the Town Meeting. This presentation should include clear, well-written charts and will be presented to the Chancellor and/or Board of Trustees, who will be chosen by your teacher.


You can request college catalogues from any Community College or branch of the California State University system. There are also many Internet sites that offer information online. Here are some of these sites:

California State University

This site provides information about the history of the University system.
About the CSU

The Mission of the California State University

Campus Addresses
This site provides links to each of the campuses of the California State University. Once you go to each of them, you can find the majors/minors by looking for Instructional Programs, Academic Programs or a similar title.

Susanville, California
The links found on this site will give you a clearer idea of the community and the types of careers that are needed there.

Lassen County
The graphs on this page will give you a clearer picture of the types of careers that are currently needed in Lassen County.

Projections of Employment by Industry and Occupation
This useful site will provide information about the jobs that will be needed in each county. Click on the links for Lassen County to find out what kinds of employees are being hired now and which will be needed in the future. It may be helpful to look at neighboring counties as well.

California Community Colleges
This site provides links to the Community Colleges in California. Lassen College will probably provide the highest amount of transfer students to your new college, but you might also want to check the degrees offered by College of the Siskiyous and Feather River College.

Learning Advice

You will be learning a lot about courses that are available at both the Community Colleges and the four-year colleges in California as you work through this lesson. Be sure to take good notes as you work. If you are not clear about the kinds of subjects that need to be studied to be a professional in any field, you will need to do a little research on that career. You might want to talk to people who work in some of the fields if you need more information.

You will need to check your map of California frequently to see where colleges, cities and counties are located. Your Social Studies book should be able to provide you with additional resources about the regions of California.
Make all charts large enough so the entire group can see and read them clearly.

Each group will need a chairperson who will oversee the research and organize group meetings. This person should take notes at the Town Meeting to be sure to include group ideas in the final presentation.


Did your group cover all of the important issues? When you presented your ideas at the Town Meetings, did other group members agree with your decisions? Did they find important things that were missing?
When the final presentation is made to the Chancellor or Board of Trustees, was the plan for the University adopted?


Think about your presentations to the large group and to the Chancellor/Board of Trustees:

  • What did you do to get the information you needed?
  • What sources were the best? Which were not useful?
  • What additional resources might have been useful?
  • If you were doing this activity again, what would you do differently?


Was the proposal for the University program approved by the Chancellor/Board of Trustees?

Teacher Notes

Karen Krupnick
Chino Valley Unified School District

History-Social Science Content Standards
4.4.8 Describe the history and development of California's public education system, including universities and community colleges.
Minor focus
4.5.5 Describe the components of California's governance structure (e.g., cities and towns, Indian rancherias and reservations, counties, school districts).

History-Social Science Analysis Skills
Chronological and Spatial Thinking
5. Students judge the significance of the relative location of a place (e.g., proximity to a harbor, on trade routes) and analyze how relative advantages or disadvantages can change over time.

Historical Interpretation
2. Students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying and explain how those features form the unique character of those places.
4. Students conduct cost/benefit analyses of historical and current events.

Language Arts Standards Grade 4: Reading Comprehension
Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed, including generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources.


  • Large map of California showing cities, roads, and topography
  • College catalogues from California State Universities and Community Colleges


  • Since college Majors and Minors is not necessarily something with which students are familiar, discuss how these work at the university and their purpose.
  • Invite college graduates from one or two of the fields that students are researching to share about their college course of study and how they have used what they learned in their current career.
  • Explore college entrance requirements and how the students can prepare for these requirements.

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