Johnson County Community College to dedicate tech center today – KC Star

Paper: Kansas City Star, The (MO)
Title: Johnson County Community College to dedicate tech center today
Author: MELODEE HALL BLOBAUM, The Kansas City Star
Date: September 25, 2007
Section: NEWS
Page: B3

Even as Johnson County Community College prepares to dedicate a new technology center today and an art museum next month, leaders are looking ahead to future construction.

They are planning assorted building additions to accommodate growing programs and examining their library needs for the future.

And they are considering how to manage growth down the road as the college builds out its 234-acre campus at College Boulevard and Quivira Road in Overland Park.

The school’s 155,000-square-foot Regnier Center will be dedicated at 3 p.m. today. The three-story building houses the Center for Business and Technology, a conference center, classrooms for various computer and information technology programs and state-of-the-art biotechnology labs and classrooms.

The tech center and connected Nerman Museum for Contemporary Art cost $52.6 million, a portion of which was paid for by a capital campaign that concluded Monday.

But the college’s space needs are still growing.

First up: expanding spaces for the Police Academy and dental hygiene programs, said Gerald Baird, the school’s executive vice president for administrative services.

The school is taking bids for an addition to the Police Academy that was built in 2001 through a partnership with the Johnson County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association. The academy would gain about 5,000 square feet through the expansion, Baird said.

Planning is under way to expand the space for the school’s dental hygiene program, as well, Baird said.

Trustees are awaiting results of a $35,000 study to determine how the school’s library can meet today’s technology needs. The Billington Library went up as part of the original campus in 1972.

The study is expected to determine whether to renovate the facility or build a new one and convert the existing building into classrooms, offices, or both.

Baird said the campus could accommodate a new library building and probably additions to some other buildings.

But two trustees said that as they look ahead, they’re worried more about traffic in and around the campus than they are about space to build.

“Getting off (Interstate) 435 at 8 and 5 to get to the campus is difficult,” said Trustee Chairman Lynn Mitchelson. “The greater need is to conveniently get people in and out and to class on time.”

One solution to the traffic challenge is satellite campuses with easy interstate access.

Trustees heard about one such possibility during a work session last week, when Lenexa leaders presented a proposal to move some college programs to a proposed civic center at the Lenexa City Center near 87th Street Parkway and Renner Road.

The school already leases space for some programs, and the Lenexa proposal potentially could save the school some money, Baird said.

But he and trustees were quick to say that any decision about a satellite campus is far in the future.

“It needs to be studied, but I’m not convinced satellites are the best use of taxpayers’ dollars,” said Trustee Jon Stewart. “But it’s worth exploring and keeping an open mind.”

Campaign exceeds goal

Johnson County Community College’s first-ever capital campaign exceeded its $15 million goal by more than $5 million. On Monday, the school’s foundation announced it had raised $20.2 million through its Campaign for the Community capital campaign started in 2003.

Contributions are being used to fund both programs and construction at the college. The total was boosted by the announcement Monday of a $1.3 million donation from JCCC alumnus and Trustee Jon Stewart to establish the Cohen Community Lecture Series honoring the late Barton P. Cohen.

Proceeds from the series will support scholarships, programming and training at the school. The inaugural speaker on Dec. 11 is George Will.

Author: MELODEE HALL BLOBAUM, The Kansas City Star
Section: NEWS
Page: B3