By Traci Chapman
It was the culmination of four years of dedication, work, hopes and dreams, as Rose State College celebrated the completion of the final project of a $22 million 2013 bond package.
“You have changed the face of Rose State for thousands of students,” President Dr. Jeanie Webb told those attending a Sept. 7 ceremony commemorating the completion of the school’s $7.2 million Learning Resource Center. “None of these projects would have happened without our neighbors.”
The renovation of the center, last expanded in 1981, was the largest single project of the 2013 bond package. The new facility now comprises 52,000 square feet – compared to the 43,000 square feet the building previous encompassed.
Making the LRC larger was not the only focus of that bond project, however, administrators said. Enhanced tutoring, four interactive distance learning classrooms and 200 new computers were also part of the $7.2 million price tag.
“The new Learning Resource Center offers intimate study nooks and open spaces for group discussions,” said Tamara Pratt, vice president for external affairs and marketing. “In addition, now vital student resources are located under one roof – student services, such as counseling and disability services and concurrent enrollment, are located close together to provide more support for students in a collaborative environment.”
That environment also included Underground Coffee and Café, a 1,200-square-foot facility located in the LRC’s southwest corner. A coffee shop and café were among every “wish list” encountered by administrators as they planned potential projects leading up to the 2013 election, they said.
Rose State collaborated with Underground Coffee to make the café a reality. The business already has two locations – one in Midwest City and the second on Tinker Air Force Base.
While the Learning Center was the largest and last project completed thanks to the 2013 bond, it certainly wasn’t the only achievement. The 15-year issue also funded upgrades in several of the college’s academic buildings, an IT fiber network and wireless infrastructure upgrade, Webb said.
“There is a new excitement on campus, a new sense of purpose, and that’s translated to growth – last fall we saw a 7 percent student enrollment increase, this fall it was 6 percent,” she said. “I believe Rose State is on the move.”
One project’s renovations made a difference not just to those on campus, but also to many in the surrounding Del City and Midwest City community – Rose State’s aquatics center, Del City Vice Mayor Ken Bartlett said.
“I use the aquatics center, and I know many, many people from the community who also enjoy its use,” Bartlett said. “It’s a blessing to us, just as Rose State is a blessing to everyone lucky enough to attend.”
Aquatics center upgrades totaling about $675,000 were among the first completed by administrators and construction crews. Much of the work needed there was not cosmetic, but necessary to keep the facility open, Health and Wellness Center Director Chris Leland said at the time. The project included new underwater lights, pipe upgrades and several other fixtures, as well as the pool deck, which didn’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations because the facility was built before the act went into effect. A second $575,000 phase, which upgraded locker rooms and replaced the roof, completed aquatic center projects, administrators said.
“We love our campus, we love you and we thank you for loving us,” Rose State Board Treasurer Betty J.C. Wright said.