By Marielle Argueza
The newly opened Otter Student Union building has a new principal in Jeff Rensel, who joined CSU Monterey Bay in November 2021.
Rensel comes to CSUMB with a wealth of experience cultivating the richness of student life. He did his undergraduate and graduate studies at Northern Arizona University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and later a Masters in Educational Leadership.
In 2001, he served first as a tutoring coordinator and then as a student union staff member at Arizona State University. He stayed for two decades, fulfilling various roles in the student union, until he finally transferred to CSUMB last year.
“After 20 years, I wanted something new, something challenging, and an opportunity to grow at another institution,” Rensel said.
He came to CSUMB just months after the August inauguration of the newly constructed Otter Student Union building. Also part of OSU is the Otter Cross Cultural Center, or OC3, which also recently had a new director in Rudy Medina.
As Rensel reflects on the work, he points out that there are key differences between ASU and CSUMB, as ASU was much larger and older. Both campuses, he notes, were diverse in their own way, and he sees his role as a conduit to enrich that diversity.
“The student union is the heart of a campus,” Rensel said. “It should be the place to gather, eat, meet, greet, study and experience different programs.”
In other words, Rensel may be serving a different campus, but hopes that the same community building, cultural engagement, and enrichment can be replicated on the CSUMB campus.
He hopes to use the space, in particular, to allow students to run their campus from its spiritual center: “I want OSU to be really proud to be student-run.”
“Often this is where students can gain hands-on service experience. Whether it’s working in the information desk or in operations – and we can truly personalize this extracurricular experience. Rensel said.
OSU is not just a place of student work, but of student life. The new and improved facility is home to most of CSUMB’s affinity groups and hosts many programs and services. Rensel will continue to work closely with affinity groups and the OC3 to celebrate the diversity of CSUMB students through heritage programs and celebrations throughout the next academic year.
“I want to support the student experience and help students see their own potential,” Rensel said.