Student success goal of L building services

John Ballack

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The Academic Success Center, occupying the L building, is the culmination of many years of planning and persistence by City College administrators. What started as a vision to optimize campus offerings has now been transformed into a support service center for the next generation of students.

Funding for the L building project was acquired through Proposition S. This ballot measure, passed in 2002, provided $685 million in construction bonds to the community college district.

This was followed by Prop N in 2006, which added $879 million. With funding secured, committees began to design a 28,000 square feet facility that would create a bridge between the community and the many facets of higher education.

“There is a growth plan for all new buildings,” Yevonne Schmeltz said at the center’s help desk. “The L building is part of a master plan to create a community that is student focused and driven; a pedagogy of services.”

The building had previously been the site of the City College library. After the LRC was opened in 2002, it became a multi-purpose collection of classrooms and offices. In early 2008, all departments were relocated and the structure was closed for interior demolition and work on structural upgrades. “It was completely gutted,” Schmeltz said.

Renovations included new partitions and ceilings, replacement of the elevator and stairs and installation of exterior doors and windows. A rewiring of electrical distribution points and fixtures made multiple computer terminals possible. Unique architectural finishes and “subway tiling” give the interior a modern, urban feel. The entire project, including development and design, is estimated to have cost $10.8 million.

“Student success was the overall goal…to create a center of support services for students,” Desiree VanSaanen, former president of the City College classified
senate, said. “The idea was to form a cohesive, one-stop center to make people aware of services and keep them from running around. We also tried to identify and remove barriers and keep from duplicating services,” she explained.

In an effort to aid students, the mix of departments housed in the Academic Success Center was carefully chosen. Including services for those beginning or transferring to City College, Assessment and Evaluations, along with financial assistance from EOPS, New Horizons and CalWORKs. Tutoring and other specialized academic help can be found in the math and English centers and also at the MESA and TRIO facilities. Puente & Umoja offer culturally centered
learning opportunities.

“We wanted the students and departments to learn about each other,” VanSaanen said.

This integration of administrative, academic and cultural entities is merely one phase of City College’s expansion. The Career Technology Center and adjoining parking garage, currently under construction, will add space for new departments and student services and be opened next year.

Construction of the new science building, on the site currently occupied buy the Modular Village, will begin soon after that. Construction and renovation projects, such as a humanities building and M building remodeling, are scheduled through 2014.

“All of the space is filled,” said Schmeltz of the L building. “But, as departments grow, there may be a need for more room.”

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