Local Leaders Open New Student Engagement Center

From the Santa Clara Weekly

SANTA CLARA, Calif-- Jan. 24 was a blue ribbon day for Mission College in Santa Clara. The community college, established in 1975 and now serving 8,000 diverse students, marked the official opening of its new Student Engagement Center (SEC) with fanfare by the all-brass Santa Clara Vanguard band.

“This [center] is the gateway to our entire campus and the heart of student services. It is part of a physical transformation,” said Mission College President Daniel Peck. “We will have state-of-the-art classrooms, one-stop shopping access to services and the ability to efficiently provide financial aid, counseling, tutoring and wrap-around support outside the classroom.”

Academic and political dignitaries, including U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna from California’s 17th District, made opening remarks at the ceremony. A teal blue (the school colors are teal, black and white) ribbon cutting, facility tours and refreshments completed the festivities, attended by about 300 on the crisp and cloudy morning.

“This is such a fabulous day, a day of celebration,” said West Valley-Mission Community College District (WVMCCD) Chancellor Patrick Schmitt. “This new building speaks to our belief in our students, ourselves and our mission to serve people….We will take this school and make it even greater. The building is a gift from our community, and we will use this gift wisely and well.”

“We are in the midst of a re-growth,” said Peck. “The Student Engagement Center is the latest symbol of partnership with the community. It shows the support from our community to build this amazing facility, and it demonstrates our commitment to serving the community.”

Ground was broken for construction of the three-story, 101,000-square-foot building on Aug. 25, 2015. It was financed by two bonds, each approved by 60 percent of WVMCCD voters.

In 2004, Measure H authorized a $235 million bond for the WVMCCD, and in 2012, Measure C provided an additional $350 million, of which $157 million was dedicated to Mission College.

With the design firm Lionakis as the chief builder, the SEC meets the U.S. LEED Gold standard for energy efficiency. The building incorporates sustainable systems of natural ventilation, displacement ventilation, radiant heating, solar hot water heating, municipal reclaimed water use and controlled LED lighting throughout.

“It’s a great honor to have Mission College in our district. We forget how special our area is,” said Representative Khanna. “Too many [elsewhere in the U.S.] have an awful choice—stay in communities without economic opportunities or leave their homes. We need to take leadership in helping other communities in our country.”

Khanna spoke out for affordable and debt-free college education and the need for the country to help the DREAMers, those students whose families brought them to the U.S. illegally when they were young.

“I’m disappointed [Congress] did nothing on the DREAMers,” said Khanna, referring to the midnight Jan. 20 government shutdown and restart vote on Jan. 22 without provision for DREAMers. “This debate is really about our commitment to kids—800,000 kids affected by this. We’ll continue to fight for students to have a path to citizenship or at least legal status.”

WVMCCD Board of Trustees President Anne Kepner and City of Santa Clara Vice-Mayor Kathy Watanabe also made opening remarks. Certificates of recognition and appreciation were presented to President Peck by representatives from the offices of state Assemblymember Kansen Chu and State Senator Bob Wiekowski.

Mission College’s old main campus building, dating from 1979, will be torn down, creating open space. The next campus building project is replaceing the temporary buildings behind the main building, with construction probably starting within the year.

For information about Mission College and class registration, visit www.missioncollege.edu. The spring semester began Jan. 27, and some classes may still be open for late registration.