OAKHURST — About 40 people gathered last night to participate in a Strategic Planning Alliance meeting, geared toward figuring out how millions of dollars will be spent on a new college facility in Oakhurst.
Oakhurst Community College Center is part of Reedley College, which operates under the umbrella of the State Center Community College District (SCCCD). In June, voters approved Bond Measure C, which gives the SCCCD $485 million for facilities construction and expansion. Oakhurst is expected to receive about $25 million from that bond.
The purpose of the meeting, according to Reedley College President Sandra Caldwell, was to bring to life the educational master plan and goals of the college centers. Representatives from all aspects of foothill life were present, including those with interests in education, business, tourism, and economic development.
The Oakhurst site served 1,262 individuals last year, according to Dr. Caldwell, or what could be considered equivalent to 250 to 300 full-time students.
According to the college president, the status of the bond is that the June election was certified in August, followed by a Request for Proposals from project managers and architects. In December, Kitchell and Associates was chosen for Program Manager.
This month, the local firm Odell Planning and Research was assigned as Environmental Consultant, tasked with the complicated process of selecting a location for the future college, should the construction of a new facility be chosen over expanding the existing site.
In February, Dr. Caldwell stated, construction projects are set to get underway at two locations, including expansion of agriculture and technology at Madera, and a math, science and engineering facility at Reedley. Further plans for the Oakhurst site have yet to be announced pending site selection and approval.
Newly-appointed Vice President Claudia Habib ran the meeting as attendees were given packets including the mission, vision, values and goals statement for the future.
Half a dozen tables of eight people each were equipped with paper, sticky notes, pens, and labeled envelopes to facilitate the brainstorming session, a process of refining ideas with community stakeholders, representing a modern approach to strategic planning.
“It was a great way to get everyone thinking about the serious wants and needs of the community for the college of our collective dreams,” said one participant.
Mission Statement: [the college] motivates and empowers student success with high-quality, innovative educational opportunities. We inspire a passion for learning to meet the academic and workforce goals of our diverse communities. Our associate degree programs, career technical education, transfer level and basic skills courses are offered in an accessible and safe learning environment.
Vision: As an exemplary educational institution, [the college] will cultivate professional, well-prepared individuals who will enrich our local, regional, and global communities.
The conversation quickly turned to important questions such as, whom do we serve? What does our community require from this facility, and how can we address those needs to secure better standards of higher education and opportunity for our foothill residents?
As the group discussed what success means for students, the purpose of the Strategic Planning Alliance meeting became more clear. It’s about getting everyone on the same page, for the future. It was evident from the enthusiasm of the crowd that Oakhurst is ready and willing to move ahead as soon as possible.
Darin J. Soukup, P.h.D is the Director of the Oakhurst Community College Center. Email Dr. Soukup here.