Santos Manuel Student Union-North opens at CSUSB

Mar 24, 2022 | Front Page

Honorary doctorate to be presented posthumously to Santos Manuel

Staff Writer

The grand opening ceremony of the Santos Manuel Student Union Complex North at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) on March 17 was a colorful and significant event.

During the event, university President Tomás D. Morales announced that the university will recognize the founding leader of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians by awarding him an honorary doctorate in humane letters. That ceremony will occur on May 20 during the CSUSB graduation ceremonies. This doctorate will be presented posthumously since Santos Manuel died at the age of 105 in October 1919. He was born in 1814 in the San Bernardino Mountains.

“I am pleased to publicly announce that the board of trustees of the California State University and CSUSB will be honoring Santos Manuel with an in memoriam, or posthumous, honorary doctorate in humane letters at our spring commencement exercises,” Morales told the more than 500 in attendance at the grand opening. “I am grateful that we can lift up his name in this way through the highest honor available in the CSU.”

The San Manuel Student Union North (SMSU) is a $90 million, 120,000-square foot, three-story expansion of the previously existing Santos Manuel Student Union complex. This dedication was awhile arriving since ground was broken on the expansion in June 2019. It is located in the center of the 430-acre campus at 5500 University Parkway in San Bernardino. It is now one of the largest university building complexes in the entire state of California’s 23-campus university system named after an indigenous leader or elder. The SMSU is a 501(c)3 and the maintenance of the building is funded through student fees.

The SMSU includes a spacious lobby, relaxation and study lounge areas, meeting rooms, a state-of-the-art theater, multi-purpose events center and conference center used for major events, graphics services, laptop checkout program and Student Union scheduling. Also in the SMSU are the Coyote Cafe, Obershaw Den, Coyote Cantina, Coyote Lanes, the Associated Students, Inc., and numerous student support offices.

Santos Manuel is recognized as the tribal leader who led the Yuhaaviatam people, which by then only numbered approximately 30 members, away from their mountainous homelands into the San Bernardino Valley, saving them from being killed during a sweep to clear the mountain of indigenous people. His heroic actions ensured the survival of the tribe.

Known as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, it is a sovereign American Indian tribe of Serrano people in San Bernardino County. It is the largest philanthropic group in the Inland Empire.

It is so named because the name “San Manuel” is from the Yuhaaviatam leader known by his Spanish name, “Santos Manuel.” The term “Mission Indians” originated from the 21 missions established by Spanish settlers along California’s coast between 1769 and 1823, from San Diego to Sonoma.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians support neighboring communities through financial contributions for education, health and wellness, economic development and cultural projects, such as this addition to the student union. The SMSU building will greatly benefit the 17,000 students who attend CSUSB, which was founded in 1962, for decades to come.



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