• USU Banner Image (Sol Center Exterior 1)

About Us

The University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge is a student centered non-profit organization that works to expand the college experience through various programs, services, employment, and involvement opportunities.

The USU first opened its doors in 1973 and is located on East University Drive. The facility was designed to enhance the total university experience through volunteer and job opportunities, events, and various services such as food, study areas, computer labs, and TV lounges.

The USU is committed to providing inclusion, diversity and personal growth to students, as well as food, study areas, computer labs, TV lounges, events and entertainment.

Completed in Fall 2006, the USU underwent a $15 million renovation that included the new Sol Center and various upgrades throughout the facilities. In Spring 2012, the USU opened the 138,000 square foot Student Recreation Center facility for exercise and leisure activity that promotes lifelong health and wellness.


The University Student Union, as the heart of campus, uplifts and empowers students to achieve educational, personal and professional goals by providing leadership development, meaningful employment, and innovative programs, services and facilities. We promote equity, inclusion and well-being, while encouraging social justice advocacy to help Matadors feel heard, respected and connected to CSUN.


  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Fun
  • Integrity
  • Learning
  • Respect
  • Service


Business, Operational Practices and Facilities

Support the design, development and remodel of the USU facilities to develop a wellness center that uses an integrated holistic approach to developing students’ commitment to well-being that positively impacts impediments to academic success.

Support and develop additional usable programmatic spaces and services in the USU that assist students in connection to the campus community.

Examine the feasibility of and need to renovate the interior of Building C to add meeting space, offices, more effective storage and to maximize available usable space. Adding meeting rooms will effectively increase the total inventory of programmable rooms allowing the USU to increase revenues needed to offset future fee increases, and to be able to create a sustainable, state-of-the-art conference and meeting center.

Enrollment Management, Retention and Advocacy

Examine, plan and publish corporate-wide assessments as part of the creation of a culture of evidence that strategically plans assessments, establishes transparency for stakeholders, and produces evidence that specific USU programs, services, and/or facilities enhance students’ capacity for personal achievement.

Conduct the Student Affairs Program review process for the USU in order to assess compliance with the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) and continually improve USU operations, services and programs.

Develop a comprehensive campus recreation program that contributes to the increase of fitness levels, health and overall wellness of the campus community and contributes to student persistence to graduation.

Maximize Financial Resources

Review the long-term financial plan to determine whether there are sufficient net assets to provide funding for current operations and future initiatives.

Determine the best uses of the Satellite Student Union in order to maximize use of organizational financial resources.

Staff Development and Well-Being

Implement an ongoing employee training and development program for supervisors that enhances skills and increases positive performance.

Support the Board of Directors student representatives and the USU student employees in discovering, strengthening and using their natural talents via the StrengthsQuest® program in order to help them achieve their educational goals.

Technology Advancement

Examine the need for an Innovative Technology Lounge in the former Computer Lab space to assist students in achieving their educational goals by providing the appropriate environment and technology.

Create an efficient recruitment and application tracking system that will streamline the manual-based recruitment process to an electronic-based recruitment process.

Strategic Priorities

Video: Welcome to Your University Student Union

The University Student Union is here to maximize the CSUN experience for all Matadors. Watch this fun video for an inside look at the USU’s “Top Ten Pro Tips” for every student on campus.

Here’s a quick preview: You can do it all at the USU!

Management Staff

Debra L. HammondDebra L. Hammond
Executive Director

(818) 677-2390

Debra L. Hammond has more than 39 years of experience in higher education. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the University Student Union (USU) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The USU is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization governed primarily by students. She opened a $60 million Student Recreation Center as well as a Pride (LGBTQ) Center, a Veterans Resource Center, and a state-of-the-art Oasis Wellness Center in 2013 and is currently in the process of planning a $130 million renovation/new construction project for the USU. She also serves as a faculty member in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. She teaches in the college counseling student services program where she received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award in 2012. For her body of work, the California State University (CSU) selected Debra from among the CSU’s 23 campuses as its outstanding staff member of 2016. The Wang Family Excellence Award is the highest award presented to an administrator by the CSU. Debra also received the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 for her accomplishments as a woman in business.  

Joe IlluminateJoseph C. Illuminate
Associate Director, Accounting & Finance

(818) 677-6492

Joseph Illuminate has served as the Associate Director, Finance & Business Services since February 2004. He provides leadership and direction for the USU Finance & Business Services department. Joseph is focused on being a steward of student fees to ensure there are sufficient resources to fund programs and services for students at the highest level. He earned his master’s degree in Public Administration and graduate certificate in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. Joseph also holds a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration with a specialization in accounting from California State University, Los Angeles.  

Sharon KinardSharon S. Kinard
Associate Director, Administration & Communications

(818) 677-6025

Sharon S. Kinard started her employment with the University Student Union in 1999, serving in several progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as associate director in October 2020. A former news reporter with the Los Angeles Daily News who covered city and county governments and education, Sharon provides solid news, writing and editing experience. She has oversight of the Board of Directors, Department of Administration, Marketing Department and Assessment. 

A former part-time co-instructor of assessment for CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education in its college counseling/student services graduate program, Sharon earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree in journalism (English minor) from San Diego State University. She also is a facilitator in Strengths-Based Education with Gallup Inc.

Sharon is passionate about measuring student success efforts, programs and services. She enjoys writing, hiking and mentoring, as well as thought-provoking books, films, family and good friends. 

Kaila Lavin

Kaila Lavin
Director, Student Recreation Center

(818) 677-5649

Kaila Lavin was born in New Mexico and raised in Arizona. She began working at a recreation facility in high school and loved the fun environment it created. From there, she attended the University of Arizona and began working at the Student Recreation Center on campus. Over the next four years, she advanced through several positions within the department and decided that the recreation industry was the career path for her. 

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Psychology, Kaila moved to California. She attended CSUN and received her graduate degree in Tourism, Hospitality, and Recreation Management (RTM) while serving as a graduate assistant for the new SRC during the construction phase. Kaila continued working her way up in the SRC to her current role as Director. 

Kaila also serves as a Lecturer for the RTM department and teaches classes for the graduate program. Additionally, Kaila works part time as Lead Faculty and Technology Integration Specialist for CORE Unlimited, a consulting firm specializing in collegiate recreation and software development. Kaila enjoys her time traveling, teaching group exercise classes, and spending time with family and friends. 

Samantha Liu

Samantha Liu
Acting Assistant Director, Operations & Services

(818) 677-2899




Audrey Martinez

Audrey Martinez

Acting Assistant Director, Programs & Inclusion

(818) 677-5058




Kristen Pichler

Kristen Pichler
Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development

(818) 677-3849

Kristen Pichler, or KP as she’s more commonly known, started her employment with the University Student Union in 1985. Since then, she’s served in a variety of progressively responsible positions prior to stepping into her current role as the Associate Director, Human Resources & Professional Development in 2000, leading HR functions for the USU’s 450 employees and 40 volunteers. KP fosters a legal, safe, and fair employment environment, and is a champion of the student employment experience, encouraging students to acquire knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes that will help them succeed at work both now and post-graduation. She is a devoted Matador, holding both a master’s degree in Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in English, from California State University, Northridge.

Freddie SanchezDr. Freddie Sánchez
Associate Director, Programs & Inclusion
(On Loan to University)

(818) 677-7618

Dr. Freddie Sánchez joined the University Student Union in November 2015 as the Assistant Director for Resource Centers (Veterans Resource Center, Pride Center). In 2017, he was appointed as the Associate Director for Marketing & Programs overseeing various USU departments including Diversity & Inclusion, Events, Marketing, Pride Center, Veterans Resource Center and leadership development for the USU Board of Directors. Freddie is passionate about providing equitable opportunities for students that are transformative and increase student success at CSUN. He received his PhD from the Joint PhD Program in Education at Claremont Graduate University/San Diego State University. He received a Master’s of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California and two bachelor’s degrees (Spanish and Financial Mathematics & Statistics) from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Contact Us

University Student Union

18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8272
(818) 677-2251

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