The Los Angeles Campus and Downtown LA: An Evolving Relationship of 10 Years
September 24, 2018
By Lucy Birmingham
The Los Angeles Campus of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has evolved as a hub of academic excellence in psychology, in parallel with the downtown district’s phenomenal growth. Located in the historic “617 building” on 7th Street, the university is looking forward to celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall. Its commitment to the district has been further cemented for another 10 years with a planned move next spring just one block away to the Aon Center at 707 Wilshire Boulevard.
“We knew the downtown district would be the optimal location for our Southern California Campus,” said University President Dr. Michele Nealon. “As a university devoted to service to community and diversity, we wanted to be in an area that would not just be easily accessible, but one that offered our students opportunities to help others and to learn through real world training. We wanted a location that attracted the diverse student and employee populations we feel are necessary for a complete educational experience, and we’ve accomplished all of that here. Our next 10 years in the district promise to be just as rewarding!”
This remarkable 20-year pledge reflects the wide support the school has received from local business and community leaders, and many are sites used by students for training, internships and volunteer activities.
“What makes our impact unique in downtown LA, as well as Greater Los Angeles and Southern California, is that 50 percent of our students here are from underserved communities with limited mental and behavioral health services,” explains Campus Dean Dr. Justin Cassity. “Those students come here with a real sense of purpose. A sense they’re not just doing this for themselves, but with an obligation and commitment to helping the downtown community, and their own communities back home.”
“Any downtown area benefits from educational institutions,” says Hal Bastian, the prominent downtown Los Angeles businessman and ‘powerhouse’ known for his dedication to revitalizing the district for over 30 years. “The Chicago School made a decision 10 years ago to join us with the recognition that among downtown’s 500,000 workers were potential students for their broad curriculum, and opportunities to assist in community outreach. Their recommitment to an additional 10 years demonstrates that this is happening now and only going to get better. We’re looking forward to their presence in downtown for many years to come.”
The Chicago School’s community outreach includes a close partnership with the Midnight Mission homeless shelter in downtown’s Skid Row where intern students can work directly with clients. Students also have an opportunity to assist the homeless through the office of Community Partnerships, which is one of the ways the university ensures students connect to the community.
“What I tell students is that you’re in an ideal place to serve, because we are located in downtown LA, a microcosm of Los Angeles,” says Dr. Cassity. “We’ve got everything from extreme poverty to extreme affluence to your average Angeleno, all in a very small area. So their chances of coming into contact with people who represent all those different demographics is quite high.” He adds, “It’s not like going to a suburban university campus that is set apart from the rest of the city. We’re right here — in the middle of it all.”