New university center to bring more 4-year degrees to Lake Tahoe Community College | TahoeDailyTribune.com

New university center to bring more 4-year degrees to Lake Tahoe Community College

Donning all pink, philanthropist Lisa Maloff breaks ground on Lake Tahoe Community College's new university center made possible by her $5.8 million donation.
Claire Cudahy / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

Thanks to a sizable donation by a local philanthropist, Lake Tahoe Community College broke ground on a new university center this week — a move that the school hopes will bring on more opportunities for four-year degree programs.

On Wednesday, June 21, South Lake Tahoe resident Lisa Maloff was honored for her $5.8 million donation at the groundbreaking ceremony for the 7,000-square-foot building.

Scheduled for completion by fall 2018, the Lisa Maloff University Center will house four classrooms, two larger rooms for events, a lobby, restrooms, offices and meeting spaces. An outdoor plaza is designed to host special events.

“This is a historic moment for our college and our South Shore community,” said LTCC President Jeff DeFranco to the crowd gathered in the parking lot next to the college’s fine arts building. This space will eventually be the lobby of the new building.

DeFranco noted that the most common request from the community has been for LTCC to offer more four-year degree opportunities. In partnership with Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village, LTCC is currently piloting two bachelor degree programs in global business management and psychology. Beyond that, students must move or commute to pursue upper division classes after completing their two-year degrees.

The new building, however, will open up opportunities for additional four-year programming through partnerships with other public and private universities. LTCC is currently in talks with California State University, Sacramento, and Washington State University.

Roberta Mason, a founding LTCC board member who served on the board for 40 years, said this building is a game changer for local students.

“Many students will profit from being able to obtain their higher education degrees while living at home. This will be another shining star in the legacy of community service epitomized by Lisa Maloff’s generous gifts,” said Mason.

Maloff spoke to the students who attended the ceremony, reflecting on her and her late husband Robert’s experiences in college.

“College was very important for Robert and me. He graduated from Cal [Berkeley] with a master’s degree, and I graduated from UCLA on the dean’s list,” said Maloff, jokingly giving herself a pat on the head.

“When we moved to Tahoe, well, we had to start somewhere. We started from scratch. Robert took every job he could get, and I worked at Harrah’s at night as a seamstress for $2.50 an hour. But it didn’t discourage us. We said, after all, if we made it through college, we can make it here. And we did.

“So you students, you will also make it, and I give you the best of my wishes.”

The Maloff family has made numerous donations to the South Lake Tahoe community in recent years. Last August Barton Health broke ground on the Robert Maloff Center of Excellence thanks largely to a $10-million donation from Maloff in honor of her husband. The health and performance center is slated for completion in September 2017.