Palomar College extended its reach with the community after cutting the ribbon at the entrance of their new satellite campus in Rancho Bernardo on May 7.
“This is a momentous occasion for Palomar College,” Palomar President Joi Lin Blake said to a crowd of faculty, staff and other members of the district. “It’s our commitment to accessible, affordable quality education for all of our communities in the region.”
The Rancho Bernardo Education Center (formerly known as the South Education Center) was conceived after voters during 2006 approved the tax measure Bond M, which provided Palomar College with $694 million for the purpose of construction and building renovation.
Construction for the Rancho Bernardo Center was budgeted at $45 million, however, the Palomar Facilities later decided to add in solar energy technology as part of the college’s larger effort for environmental responsibility. Consequently, the final cost of the project was just under $47.2 million
The center will begin hosting classes this summer, offering several courses in the fields of STEM, arts, business and humanities. Students attending the Rancho Bernardo Center will also be capable of completing all the requirements for both biology and math degrees. “We did that very purposefully because of the community in this area,” Vice President of Instruction Jack Kahn said in reference to local industries.
Inside the center includes a reading room for students to study, as well as a community room for hosting events, conferences, and to serve as a place for students to eat. Also housed in the center is an office for counselors, financial aid, and a library on the fourth floor overlooking the neighborhood.
“This is really an exciting time,” President of Palomar’s Governing Board Paul McNamara said. “This center is really not just a promise of Prop M, but also an expansion of our services to the district, I mean, this will be an esteemed center.”
The center was built with great intention to serve students as best as possible, not only in regards to class offerings but also as a comfortable studying environment, according to Public Affairs Director Laura Gropen. The reading center reflects that intention, as parts of it are designed in a living room type manner.
However, as much as Palomar College sought to fashion the center in such a way so as to seem homely, there were those in the local neighborhood who felt the campus was placed to close to home. Resulting in a lawsuit by the City of San Diego against Palomar.
The grounds of the lawsuit claimed that Palomar had not done enough to satisfy the effects that bringing a college campus into the neighborhood would have on the community, such as traffic and parking. The lawsuit was later settled, stemming partly from Palomar’s agreement to temporarily offer free student parking – Palomar intends to reassess the issue of parking, and whether it should be free after a couple semesters have passed.
“Our goal is to be responsive to this community and to provide the kinds of opportunities that this community needs to thrive and to meet their own objectives and goals,” Kahn said over email.
Registration for classes in Rancho Bernardo has already begun. Students looking to attend classes there may enroll on eServices.