About the Natali Student Center

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About Natali

The Natali Student Center is the community center of the University, serving Students use stairs inside the Cal U Natali Student Center. students,faculty, staff, alumni and guests. The Natali Student Center is an organization offering a variety of programs, activities, services and facilities that, when taken together, represent a well-considered plan for the community life of the college.

The Natali Student Center is an integral part of the educational mission of the University.

As the center of the University community life, the Natali Student Center complements the academic experience through an extensive variety of cultural, educational, social, and recreational programs. These programs provide the opportunity to balance course work and free time as cooperative factors in education. 

The Natali Student Center is a student-centered organization that values participatory decision-making. Through volunteerism, its boards, committees, and student employment, the center offers first-hand experience in citizenship and educates students in leadership, social responsibility, and values.

In all its processes, the Natali Student Center encourages self-directed activity, giving maximum opportunity for self-realization and for growth in individual social competency and group effectiveness.

The Natali Student Center’s goal is the development of people as well as intellects.

Traditionally considered the “the hearthstone” or “living room” of the campus, the Natali Student Center is the gathering place of the University. The Natali Student Center provides services and conveniences that members of the University community need in their daily lives and creates an environment for getting to know and understand others through formal and informal associations. 

The Natali Student Center services as a unifying force that honors each individual and values diversity. The Natali Student Center fosters a sense of community that cultivates enduring loyalty to the University.

Adopted by the Association’s general membership in 1996, this statement is based on the Role of the College Union statement, 1956.

Adopted for use by the Student Association Inc., California University of Pennsylvania in 1998.



Circa 1968, the Student Activities Association expanded to encompass all student organizations and activities for all college clubs and campus programs; the campus radio station, WVCS; the California Times newspaper; and special events. These increased functions and responsibilities brought about a need for a central facility that would be operated by the Association. The board of directors, recognizing this need, worked with the college president and board of trustees to make arrangements with the Commonwealth to build a student union on campus. Under the terms of this agreement, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was to erect and to maintain the 42,000-square-foot building. In return, each student would pay a $10 building fee each semester.

The California Memorial Union was dedicated on August 18, 1972, and dedicated to those who had contributed to the “intellectual, cultural, social and aesthetic growth of the community.” 


In l989, the student body approved to proceed with an $8,000,000 student union addition. The plan was also approved by the Student Association Inc. Board of Directors, Student Congress, the Board of Trustees, Commuter Council, the Graduate Student Association, the Inter-Residence Hall Council and other student groups.  Under the terms of this agreement, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was to erect the 42,000-square-feet addition.  In return, each student was to pay an additional $65 building fee each semester. Grand opening was Fall of l992. The award-winning Elmo Natali Student Center, renamed in the honor of former vice president for Student Development and Services, offered the Cal U Student Bookstore, the Washington Food Court, the Vulcan Movie Theatre, meeting and recreational spaces.


In 2000 a Master Plan for Dining Services was completed. The recommendation of the master plan was to relocate dining operations from Gallagher Hall to the Natali Student Center.

In 2010, a survey conducted with WTW Architects assessed the needs of students, faculty and staff. Our campus community expressed the need for a roomier dining area, more retail food options, and more comfortable areas for students to meet, work and socialize.

Because the student center is an “auxiliary” building, tuition funds cannot be used to pay for improvements. So in 2011, students took a vote and agreed by referendum to increase the student center fee to cover the cost of renovations.

Only after an in-depth review of the existing student center — including the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing deficiencies — was the project approved to proceed. Mindful of the project’s cost, we trimmed $5 million from the original estimate.
“Why go forward? Our decision hinged on the need to repair serious problems with the student center’s aging infrastructure and outmoded design,” said Interim University President Geraldine M. Jones in a message to the campus community. 

“This renovation is a practical, student-centered project, designed to meet critical needs of the population we serve.”

The building is scheduled to remain open while the renovations are made. 

Who Is Elmo Natali?

Elmo Natali: Vice President Emeritus California University of Pennsylvania

Elmo Natali began his professional career at California University in 1962 as a professor of education and assistant football coach. During the next 30 years he served the students at Cal U in various positions in the area of Student Affairs and in 1977 was named vice president for Student Affairs. It was during the final years of his term as vice president that the Student Center was designed and constructed.

Natali attended then-California State College in the early 1950s and played football for the Vulcans. At one time he held the single-season rushing record for the Vulcans, and in 1992, his jersey number, 34, was retired. 

As Emeritus University President John Watkins said at the time of Natali's retirement, "Mr. Natali's complete dedication to this University has made it a better place."