For the first time in the history of the university, Cal State Long Beach alumni will have their own special place to socialize, reminisce and reconnect.
The Anna W. Ngai Alumni Center, planned for the corner of Atherton Street and Merriam Way across from the Walter Pyramid, will serve as a gathering place for receptions and other events for alumni, the campus and the community, as well as a new gateway to the university.
“I hope that the purpose of the alumni center provides an opportunity to engage and get together. Last year when I came to campus for a reunion, there was no place to meet. We met in the parking lot. The reunion had an impact on me. When we have a reunion again it will be in the alumni center,” said Ngai, who earned a B.S. in finance and business administration in 1974 and supported the project with a lead gift.
“The reunion brought back so many great memories. I run into lots of alumni in the community and even overseas. In fact, my daughter’s principal is an alumnus.”
The new landmark, which will be built with private funding, is in an ideal location at the edge of campus, near parking, the Walter Pyramid and the Carpenter Center. The facility will include a grand welcome lobby, conference and banquet rooms, a board room, a library, alumni showcase lounge, a historical room, 49er Heritage Room, a courtyard, a Greek Row wing and alumni staff offices.
“This is something we have needed and have been looking forward to for a long time,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “We have great alumni and now they will have a new home on campus and a place where we can celebrate their impressive accomplishments. The center will give CSULB’s more than 275,000 alumni an opportunity to reconnect with the proud traditions of their alma mater and reflect on the university’s emergence as a nationally recognized leader in student-centered education. We thank Anna for her tremendous generosity and hope that it will inspire others to contribute to this important and historical university project.”
Two-thirds of CSULB alumni live in Los Angeles or Orange counties, and recent indicators show that alumni are becoming more engaged with the university. Over the last decade, alumni membership has grown by 55 percent and alumni contributions have increased by nearly 40 percent. In addition, surveys and personal contacts indicate that most alumni regard their campus experience to be positive to very positive.
Ngai came here as an international student from Hong Kong and loved her experience at Cal State Long Beach.
“I was fortunate to be an international student. It was the best four years of my life. I still have great memories and great friends. It’s a beautiful country and a beautiful city. I just loved this place as soon as I arrived,” Ngai said. “We were always very fortunate to be successful and always thought we wanted to give back to my school. It has always been on my mind but I didn’t know what to do.”
She said it was not her intention to give to the alumni center, but realized its value to the university in terms of engaging alumni participation.
“I wanted to do something and thought this would be good. This is a great project and I’m fortunate to be a part of this. I wanted to show people that even international students should give back,” she said. “Higher education is very important and everyone should be able to get the education they want. Everything I have started here. It gave me education and a base for what I have.
“I think to be a happy person is to find ways to make other people happy. That’s what I go by. I hope this helps do that.”