Capital Improvement Project to relieve some areas at Northwest Vista in critical need.
By Nicole Bautista
Northwest Vista College resides in one of the fastest growing areas in Bexar County, where 40 percent of homes that have been built in the last 10 years are within the college’s service area, said Northwest Vista President Ric Baser.
“Over the next 10 years, as many as 80,000 additional population are expected within this area,” Baser said.
If the Alamo Colleges’ Capital Improvement Project bond proposal is passed during the upcoming Bexar County election May 6, there will be $450 million distributed throughout the Alamo Colleges.
Northwest Vista would receive $69 million from this bond, with which it would build a $30 million STEM center of excellence and a $26 million parking garage and welcome center. The existing Cypress Campus Center would receive $10 million in renovations, along with the physical plant, which would receive $3 million in renovations.
After the college’s development proposal was submitted to district, the citizens advisory board committee came to NVC.
Baser said he was allowed to provide a PowerPoint presentation and talk from the student enrollment standpoint, what its projected growth is in the area and how they would accommodate the growth.
A three-level 55,000-square-feet STEM center of excellence will house general sciences, such as physics, biology, chemistry, geology and several life and natural sciences programs, a primary focus of the proposed funds.
“The STEM area is one of the areas in which we have a critical deficiency in classroom facility and lab facility,” Baser said.
STEM classes and labs are currently spread between two buildings.
The campus only holds 12 labs — two chemistry, five biology, one physics, one geology and three for anatomy and physiology, Richard Chamblin, natural and physical sciences chair, said.
“We are maxed out on some of our laboratory space, especially during prime times,” Chamblin said. “It has helped that we do hybrid courses and online courses, but we still need face-to-face and lecture and lab space.”
This college was built for 14,000 students; NVC crossed that enrollment number in 2010, Baser said.
“Currently, we serve about 18,000 students; about 15,000 are on the campus.”
With all these students, come parking issues.
“Parking is a major issue,” Baser said.
If students get here between 9 a.m-1 p.m., it is about a 45-minute search for a parking spot, Baser said.
“I do see a lot of illegal parking for last-minute students who are desperate to find a spot,” Chamblin said.
A four-level parking garage will offer an additional 600 parking spots to relieve some pressure.
“I will lose about 85 parking spots, but there are about 750 spots that I will gain,” Baser said.
The first floor of this parking garage will house a welcome center, which will hold all student success support services, which “would be our one-stop center,” Baser said, “which would include our admissions, enrollment and support services for students enrolling.”
If approved, this would be the first building to be built, with construction possibly to start in fall 2017.
Currently, all student success support services are housed in the Cypress Center.
“When the welcome center is built along with the parking garage, all of those student success folks would be moving from the Cypress Center into that one-stop center associated with the parking garage. That opens up the Cypress Center to be renovated as classroom space and lab space,” Baser said.
There are currently nine student support labs that are spread out all over the campus, and Baser would like to have those all in one location.
“Whether it is SLAC lab or science and technology, whether it is writing and English labs or one of our speech labs — to be able to access that in a single site.”
The Cypress Center also will be focused on culture.
“It will be our Cultural Center of Excellence, which would include our Mexican- American study programs, our anthropology programs, and then some general additional classroom space,” Baser said
With the addition of these buildings, there is a need for the campus’s physical plant to undergo renovations as well.
“The issue that we have, is that when you build additional facilities, you have to have additional support for those — electric, water, and so on — to support the growth of additional facilities,” Baser said.
Alamo Colleges last passed a bond issue 12 years ago.
“The growth is out here,” Baser said
“I know that the population will be there, it will just be how I serve them — whether it’s in a classroom face-to-face, or if I am going to use some other delivery methodology to serve those. We will serve those students one way or another.”
Early voting is April 24-May 2.
Election day is May 6.