Drexel University to open graduate center

County officials hope school will lead to major undergraduate campus in Placer
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Drexel University is one step closer to possibly opening a campus in Placer County. University officials announced Thursday plans to open a Center for Graduate Studies in Sacramento. The Philadelphia-based university also announced it will set up a $10 million fund for student fellowships. The Sacramento-based graduate program is a gateway to possibly opening an undergraduate campus in Roseville, officials said. “They’re going to start a graduate program in Sacramento and we hope that it will lead to — in a short period of time — building a college and coming to Placer County,” said Rocky Rockholm, Placer County District 1 supervisor. Officials are proposing to build a school site west of Roseville city limits in southwest Placer County. The site would allow for 600 acres of campus and an additional 563 acres to build a community to help finance the campus. The Tsakopoulos, Cummings and Prim families and their partners donated the approximate 1,100 acres to bring a private university to the Sacramento area. Rockholm said the Sacramento graduate center is important because it shows that the university is moving forward with its plans. “In a very short period of time they did their due diligence and they did what they said they would do,” Rockholm said. “They figured there is a market here for what they offer and they’ve moved forward.” Jim Holmes, county board of supervisors chair, said he is pleased with the school’s progress. “They’re really being aggressive about coming to California,” Holmes said. Carl “Tobey” Oxholm, executive vice president and chief of staff for Drexel University, said enrollment in the graduate school will largely influence the university’s decision to pursue building a Placer County campus. “We have to succeed here,” Oxholm said. “That’s going to be a real marker for us to say we’re going to expand and move up to Placer.” He said officials hope the graduate center will bring Drexel name recognition to the Sacramento area. “We want it to go from ‘huh?’ or ‘what’s Drexel?’ to ‘oh yeah, I know Drexel. They run a quality program,’” Oxholm said. The center will open with five master’s programs in January and four additional programs will be available next September. The programs will be geared toward working adults and classes will be held at One Capitol Mall in Sacramento. The master’s programs include business administration, engineering management, higher education, information systems, and library and information science. Next fall, nursing programs and a human resource development category will be added to the list. Rockholm said the nursing program would work especially well for Placer County hospitals. “Nursing programs are something lacking in this area,” Rockholm said. The student fellowships will range in amount, up to funding full tuition. The fellowships will encourage students to work with community businesses. Oxholm added that the university will look to work with local business that want to provide higher education to its employees. For example, he said university teachers can hold classes at corporations that have about 25 employees striving for a higher education degree. “We’re all about trying to bring higher education and technology rich education and making it practical,” Oxholm said. “We’re known for use-inspired research. Everything we’re doing is practical and useful.” The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.