New college vision seen

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President Robert Vela points out stagnating enrollment numbers to emphasize outreach efforts and being a presence in this college’s surrounding community during college convocation Tuesday in McAllister. The central theme of convocation was making students feel at home at this college as Vela shared details for his vision for this college. File

President Robert Vela points out stagnating enrollment numbers to emphasize outreach efforts and being a presence in this college’s surrounding community during college convocation Tuesday in McAllister. The central theme of convocation was making students feel at home at this college as Vela shared details for his vision for this college. File

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A design of this college’s proposed main entrance Courtesy

A new master plan awaits bond election.

By Kyle R. Cotton

kcotton11@student.alamo.edu

This college should be a place where the surrounding community is always engaged with this campus, President Robert Vela told faculty and staff Aug. 16 at fall convocation, where he shared some of his vision for the next few years.

In a one-on-one interview with The Ranger Sept. 1, Vela expanded on his vision including the importance of the capital improvement projects bond, his outreach initiatives and involvement of the surrounding community.

“The thing for me is to ensure that our community, our backyard knows that SAC is here for them, and part of that is creating opportunities either through construction, redesign or collaborative shared spaces like more pocket parks or green areas so that we can partner to let our community know that we are here for them,” Vela said.

“We need to create more opportunities that we can collaborate with our community so that our students know that on weekends or whatever they’re welcomed here. … Right now we have very rigid structures around SAC, so these spaces, especially like a front door needs to be an open area.”

Efforts to create an entrance for this college include the welcome center, the victory center for veterans and active military and a proposed shared green space where Vela sees a farmers market or showcase of students’ talents regularly.

The green space will replace student parking east of Moody Learning Center.

“I want to create more of a collaborative environment for our community and the college,” he said.

Part of the vision includes what Vela calls a “need list” for the upcoming capital improvements bond of $450 million that will be voted on in May.

There are no tax implications for voters, Vela said.

“Our need list is longer than what we can afford to cover from SAC’s vantage point because we have four other colleges plus the district operations that need to share the money. … A good portion of that is going to reflect our needs, but there is a seven-year plan that we can utilize other funds within the preventive maintenance budget to deal with the renovations that we need like McAllister or like  Gonzales,” Vela said, noting the need for maintenance on the buildings.

“So, yes, it’s a good portion of our CIP, but we also have the seven-year model to hit all the renovations, not just certain buildings,” he said. “This is going to be, if approved, a seven-year project for SAC to get all of these facilities renovated.”

The requests on the upcoming bond include $18 million to renovate the first, second and remaining portion of the third floor of Fletcher Administration Center and adding a fourth floor to be a one-stop location for enrollment services; $26 million for a parking garage with office space at the San Pedro entrance at Park Avenue; $77 million for maintenance of the various buildings around campus; $34 million for a STEM center in Chance Academic Center and a law enforcement center.

Vela said if the bond passes, the construction of the green space, Fletcher renovations and the parking garage would all be done at the same time.

“There will be phasing because there are other things in the bond, but this is the first thing out of the gate,” Vela said.

Vela said the college may have to look at ways to offset the loss of parking.

“I realize we are going to lose some parking, and it could be that we partner with our local businesses and shuttle people in like when the other construction was happening. If we have to do that, we’ll do that so it doesn’t create a mess for students,” Vela said.

Vela said all of the buildings listed in the bond are past the point where they need attention, according to the district’s facility index, noting each one has unique problems, such as Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues and general wear.

“That’s why it’s a seven-year sort of process because every building will have unique needs,” Vela said.

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