Lake Tahoe Community College opens Lisa Maloff University Center |

Lake Tahoe Community College opens Lisa Maloff University Center

Lake Tahoe Community College officially opened the Lisa Maloff University Center Thursday, Aug. 16.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Kimberly Barnett-Burton got tears in her eyes when she recalled meeting Lisa Maloff a few minutes prior.

The 31-year old single mother from South Lake Tahoe said Thursday she owes everything to the “Angel of Tahoe.”

Barnett-Burton attended Lake Tahoe Community College for two years and earned her associate degree. Despite wanting to earn a bachelor’s degree, she thought that was the end to her education because she couldn’t afford to move away from her family and support system here in the basin.

“I pretty much thought, ‘well, that’s as far as I’ll get in life,’” Barnett-Burton said.

But then a good friend of Barnett-Burton’s mother told her about LTCC starting a program where students can pursue further education with the help of a generous donation from Maloff.

“They are starting this program right when I needed it. Sign me up.” Barnett-Burton said. “I actually just got to meet Lisa Maloff, it’s such a dream come true. I actually started crying while talking to her, because I wouldn’t be anywhere without her. Thank you to her.”

Barnett-Burton is taking advantage of LTCC’s new program and was a tour guide Thursday for the 150 or so people who showed up to celebrate the grand opening of Lisa Maloff University Center, a $5.8 million top of the line facility located in the heart of the campus.

“When I’m done here, I’ll have about a $20,000 student loan, which is nothing compared to what it would have been if I had to go somewhere else,” Barnett-Burton said. “It’s so awesome. I’m so grateful.”

LTCC partnered with Sierra Nevada College on the North Shore, Brandman University and Washington State University.

Jeff DeFranco, LTCC superintendent/president, said each of those schools would hire their own faculty. Brandman’s closest campus is in Roseville and they are hiring faculty to teach up here. Sierra Nevada College professors may commute by it also may hire new faculty and Washington State’s model is that somebody will teach from one location and have a two-way AV with two or three locations.

“I think what this does, is that it provides skilled labor into the workforce,” DeFranco said. “That’s the real economic impact it will have to bring to the South Shore. People have been talking about access to four-year degrees here on the South Shore for years. Today it became a reality.”

The approximately 7,000 square-foot building will become the hub for access to higher education from associate to master’s degree programs in global business management, psychology, liberal studies, applied studies, a master’s in education and earn multiple discipline teaching credentials.

Tuition for upper-division courses taken through Brandman University may be a low as $15,000 and up to $25,000 depending upon the number of transferable courses they earn through LTCC.

Sierra Nevada College’s degree programs at LTCC offer pathways for students to complete all upper-level classes for as low as $17,190. Before applying any possible financial aid or scholarships, the cost of a bachelor’s degree through Sierra Nevada College is $26,000. Students may also enjoy access to all the resources available at Sierra Nevada College’s Incline Village campus.

DeFranco said Washington State will bring hospitality management courses to the center, and that it’s perfect for a resort town.

Aside from donating the $5.8 million to complete the University Center, Maloff also handed a $100,000 check to DeFranco during the ceremony that will be put toward student scholarships at the new center.

“She just handed me a check with a bunch of zeroes at the end of it,” DeFranco told the crowd after he introduced Maloff.

When the Angel of Tahoe got to the microphone she had a message for aspiring students.

“I’m very passionate about education. I went to UCLA for eight years and loved every minute,” Maloff said to the crowd. “Students, this is your chance. Make the best of it and enjoy it. College education only comes around once and you’ve gotta take advantage.”

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that the $100,000 donated by Lisa Maloff Thursday will only be for LTCC students who want to continue their education at the Lisa Maloff University Center.

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