BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
BURLINGTON – The view when pulling into the south side of the Southeastern Community College campus has changed over the past 50 years.
One looks to the right pulling into the campus off West Agency Rd. and sees the new Health Profession Center opened in August and now to the left is the new BlackHawk Tower student residential building.
On Friday, more than 150 people gathered on the first floor of the new four-story residential building to hear from college officials and area dignitaries how the project came to be and what future plans the college has lined up.
“This is a beautiful facility for housing and will keep students not only comfortable, but a in safe place for them to do their learning and their studies,” said Dr. Michael Ash, President of Southeastern Community College.
The new structure, which has three floors of alternating men’s and women’s flooring with the women having two floors, also has an area for food and study commons on the first floor, and covers approximately 50,000 square feet. The lighting on the first floor is motion-activated to conserve on power. There are also high efficiency windows and the building is double insulated to help keep energy consumption as low as possible.
Safety was also a paramount concern according to Ash. Students will have an access badge to access the building and elevator, but then will have individual keys to get into each room. There are also 20 internal and 3 external cameras operating 24 hours a day in and around the building. Staff will be on hand at the building as well.
“This is an amazing place..an amazing place,” said Becky Rump. SCC’s Executive Director for Institutional Development. “This beautiful structure serves as a compliment to our first building the Health Profession Center which opened in August. And when we begin on our third project, the Hall of Sciences building in March, when that is completed we will have truly changed the landscape of our West Burlington campus and surrounding area.”
“As it has since the college’s inception..it takes a regional village to build and maintain a college so we can provide for the educational needs of our region.”
Jason Hutcheson, President & CEO of Greater Burlington Partnership said it took a regional effort to bring the project to reality. “I think we all know that there is really no single strategy to either improve a community or institution such as this one, but rather a whole lot of people and initiative to turn the impossible into the reality,” Hutcheson said.
“So when I look at this project a couple things come to mind. First, there was a real conscious effort to transform and transition this and to ensure it is a perpetual and high-quality talent generator. We want that talent here and I have no doubt this facility will attract talent to southeast Iowa. The other is the willingness of private capital to fund this type of purpose. Private capital has a way of being recycled again and again.”
The dorms on the second through fourth floors are contemporary with living space for four in most rooms. Each room has a living area and a kitchen area. Then two rooms off each side of the living area sport stacked beds and sleeping space for two. A private bathroom is located across the hall from each of the sleeping quarters.
The West Burlington campus was initiated in 1965, when more than 70 percent of residents in the district at that time approved a $3.7 million dollar bond issue for the expansion of the college and to buy 160 acres of land at the intersection of Highway 406 and Gear Avenue from Lloyd F. Johnson.