The History of the University Learning Center
The original learning assistance center at Cal State Fullerton was developed in 1984 as part of Student Academic Services in the Division of Student Affairs and was known as the Learning Assistance Resource Center (LARC). The role of staff at the LARC was to create adjunct strategies classes or study groups wherein student learning assistants attended particular sections of hard-to-pass classes and facilitated two to three hours a week of study groups focused on the class material. The goal was to increase students' pass rates for historically difficult courses. This was Cal State Fullerton's first formal offering of what we now call Supplemental Instruction or SI.
As the LARC grew, additional components were added. Staff in the LARC began offering practice sessions to prepare students for the Examination in Writing Proficiency (EWP), the exam all baccalaureate candidates must pass to get their degree. Staff in the LARC also helped incoming students prepare for the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics Examination (ELM). LARC staff offered individual tutoring for students who were nonnative English speakers as well.
In 1986, a computer lab was added to the LARC, which included 10 very old PCs and eight new Macintoshes with a laser printer donated to the university by Apple Computer. A grant funded by the Associated Students, Inc. provided the money for a network server. To maintain this new computer lab component, LARC administration hired an under-graduate computer science student who kept the computers updated and in working order until 1989.
Then, as a cost-cutting measure during the financial crisis of the early 90s, university administrators discontinued the operations of the LARC in 1992. However, a smaller version of the Center, complete with computer lab and known as the Learning Axis Center continued to exist, funded by the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). In 1998, the Director of Student Academic Services and an EOP lead counselor with the support of the Vice President for Student Affairs wrote a successful grant proposal to restore the Center which is now known as the University Learning Center (ULC).
The new University Learning Center (ULC) opened the fall of 1999 on the first floor of University Hall. The new ULC became an independent department in the Division of Student Affairs with a Director who was an accomplished English professor from the Academic Affairs side of the house, a newly hired Assistant Director, and an Administrative Support Assistant. The ULC offered one-to-one tutoring in about ten subject areas, the strategies study groups for historically difficult courses, and a small computer lab for students to do their homework.
By spring of 2001, the ULC outgrew its space in University Hall. The ULC Director and Vice President for Student Affairs found a new, larger location for the Center. During this semester, the ULC moved from University Hall to the lower level of McCarthy Hall into a space two times the size. The ULC continued to grow, providing more academic support services to the campus and employing more instructional student assistants. By this time, the ULC offered academic assistance in over 30 classes, Supplemental Instruction for challenging GE courses, writing workshops for native and non-native English speakers, and study skills building workshops.
In the summer of 2007, the ULC once again outgrew its space. The Vice President and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs secured a new location in the Cal State Fullerton library with even more space. When the fall 2007 semester began, the ULC was all moved in on the second floor, north side of the Pollak library. During the 2008-2009 academic year, the ULC conducted over 15,000 academic assistance sessions in over 60 courses. Students at Cal State Fullerton are smart; they take advantage of the resources available to help them succeed academically.