College campus grows in size and opportunities |

College campus grows in size and opportunities

As the weather outside changes and autumn returns, it is time for Lake Tahoe Community College to begin another academic year.

Returning students will find some changes. Earlier this month, we opened our new Physical Education Building. Under construction and soon to be completed is a Student Center that will include a cafeteria, student activities office and a teaching kitchen for our growing culinary arts program.

Imagine the difference from the converted motel where the college began in 1975 to the first buildings opened on the present campus in 1988. That type of change is about to happen again. Can it be that major? Probably not, but there will be a different atmosphere this year.

One of our primary goals at LTCC is to prepare students to transfer and succeed at a four-year university. Part of that success is based on adapting to university life not only academically but socially as well. The Student Center and cafeteria will provide a welcoming place for students to gather and the opportunity to create a student life beyond a noisy table in the commons.

So what is coming this year?

The 26,000-square-foot Physical Education Building equals more than just increased space — it equals opportunity. The number of already popular courses has been increased. The gymnasium could host a college basketball or volleyball game or, on a slightly smaller scale, two basketball or volleyball games side by side.

In addition, the college can now support intercollegiate athletics and will soon be studying the feasibility of such sports despite our relative isolation and the challenges of winter-weather travel. Public response has been overwhelming and many of the fall classes are already full.

The Student Center will probably open in October. We plan on the cafeteria being open from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with special focus on breakfast and lunch and limited food service in the evening. Students will be able to go online, check e-mail and conduct research in the cyber cafe.

The Student Council will gain a permanent home in the new 300-square-foot activities office, and culinary arts students will have their own kitchen on campus. As soon as the final completion date is received, a grand opening will be planned.

So what is next?

There are two major projects on the horizon. First is the new library. The college submitted a capital outlay project application with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office that was approved. The $9 million in construction costs will be funded from Proposition 47 if the measure is successful in the November 2002 election.

Lake Tahoe Unified School District is in line for an additional $10 million as matching funds for renovation projects already completed at local schools. If the measure is passed, the college will receive funds for construction drawings in December and for construction to begin in May 2004. The new library is critical to the future of the college. It will provide the learning resources necessary for conducting college-level research and access to reading opportunities required for an educated mind. The space the library now occupies will be available for conversion to needed classrooms.

The college will also build an art gallery within the new library through the support and fund-raising efforts of the college foundation. For years we have needed secure gallery space to display the artwork of local and regional artists. Full-time art faculty members David Foster and Phyllis Shafer have worked with artists throughout the United States to provide art shows that offer a broad spectrum of art styles and techniques. Without a secure gallery space, many artists are understandably reluctant to expose their valuable creations to theft or damage.

So while there are changes coming on the campus, the culture of the college with its focus on student success will not change. Students are in these classes because they believe learning will have a positive effect on their lives. We are working to build the facilities necessary to enable our students to succeed in their educational goals. In this manner, we continue to provide accessible, affordable, high-quality higher education to the residents of South Shore with the personal touch for which the college is so well known.

Guy Lease is president of Lake Tahoe Community College. He may be reached at (530) 541-4660.

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