Touro University on Vallejo's Mare Island opened a newly renovated library and pharmacy teaching facility to students this fall semester, the latest in a series of property improvements made to the historic, 44-acre cluster of 23 former U.S. Navy facilities since the nonprofit private university first opened a campus there in 1999.

Completed at a cost of around $2.4 million, the renovations involve a number of steps that further adapt the former mess hall to accommodate its current use as a modern library and classroom facility. Among those improvements is a state-of-the-art simulated pharmacy lab, replacing an unused space once used for food preparation and storage.

[caption id="attachment_78866" align="alignright" width="382"] Touro University California completed a $2.4 million library upgrade this year (photo credit: Touro University)[/caption]

"It looks like you're going into a pharmacy at Kaiser or Sutter," said Marilyn Hopkins, provost and chief operating officer of the Jewish-sponsored medical college's Mare Island campus. "They first learn in a structured, protected environment. Then, when they go out into the real world, they do it better."

With headquarters in New York City, Touro's California campus was the first of what will soon be five campuses dedicated to medical education. The 1,400-student Mare Island Campus offers graduate programs including osteopathic medicine, medial health science and pharmacy, and is a frequent recipient of medical research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Touro purchased its campus from its former lessor, the joint-venture developer Lennar Mare Island, three years ago. The college had invested around $30 million in tenant improvements before the purchase, and plans further improvements in the coming years, Ms. Hopkins said.

"Every year, we seem to be doing some kind of major capital project," she said, noting that Touro has tried to maintain the ambiance of the former military site.

The pharmacy practice center includes three distinct rooms -- a medicine compounding facility, a classroom and a simulation area. The project was partially funded by a grant from the Walnut Creek-based Thomas J. Long Foundation, which also provides scholarships for a pharmacy program that Ms. Hopkins said graduates around 100 students per year.

Other improvements also included the creation of 13 study rooms, librarian office space, a small computer lab and six new static-free offices for the campus's information technology department. The university moved its computer servers into a space backed by an emergency generator, tunneled through a concrete floor to install new power outlets for library users and created an archive storage area with water-free fire suppression and climate control.

Revenue from each campus is delivered to the Touro's headquarters and then redistributed each fiscal year, creating a funding source for capital improvements and other projects. Next on the planned list is a building behind the closed Mare Island hospital, which was once a pioneering center for the development of prosthetic limbs, Ms. Hawkins said.***

Sonoma State University's Wine Business Institute announced a new course focusing on Internet-based wine business, adding to existing offerings in its online wine business management certificate program.

Called "Wine eCommerce," the advanced-level elective course builds on the business education in the program's four-week foundation and eight-week intermediate levels. It will be offered for the first time in the spring semester of 2014.

The course focuses on the economic and regulatory issues specific to Internet activities and the wine industry, including an overview of e-business issues, wine club management and winery management software. Those completing the course are expected to learn how to leverage their online presence for marketing while operating within regulatory guidelines, as well as gaining knowledge on various web and mobile-based platforms.

While three levels of courses are required to obtain the full wine business certificate, the program is also marketed for existing wine industry professionals seeking specific training. The new course, and others in the certificate's advanced level, is $960.***

The Dominican University of California-affiliated business incubator and accelerator in San Rafael, the Venture Greenhouse, is hosting two open house mixers to aid its search for new clients.

The facility, at 30 Castro Ave., will offer its free event to potential clients from 5-7 p.m. on Sept. 4 and 18. Staff and executives from the program will be on hand to answer questions, along with current and former clients and advisers.

The program officially opened after a handful of so-called "beta" clients in October of 2011, offering inexpensive office space for up to three employees and advising to startup and high-growth companies with a strong social and environmental focus. Membership is for one year, with a "graduation" and recruitment period every six months.

The Venture Greenhouse operates in close collaboration with Dominican University, and has attracted many of its tenants from the school's MBA in Sustainable Enterprise program. Students are often tapped as a resource for collaborative projects, and university leaders have described the Venture Greenhouse as a key part in a pathway for entrepreneurial minds at the school.Applications are due on April 1 for May entry and Oct. 1 for entry in November. Applications for a Marin County-funded affiliate program are due Jan. 1 for February entry and July 1 for August entry. More information is available at www.venturegreenhouse.org or by contacting operations manager Matthew Gaulding at matthew@venturegreenhouse.org or 415-497-3308.***

The office of California State Controller John Chiang announced that it has updated its public employee compensation website with a significant new set of data concerning California State University employees. The update includes data for 341,475 positions, with more than $17.5 billion in wages paid in 2012.

The data, which also includes compensation for other state employees, is available at www.publicpay.ca.gov.

"Government works best when its citizens are well-informed and vigilant over how public resources are being spent," said Mr. Chiang, in an announcement. "Bringing the public sector into the digital age, my office is driving to make compensation data for virtually every public employee in California available with a keystroke."


Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Eric Gneckow, 707-521-4259 or eric.gneckow@busjrnl.com.