Campus changes

The final days of West Campus at 302 S. Gammon Road are approaching.

Josh Zytkiewicz / Clarion

The final days of West Campus at 302 S. Gammon Road are approaching.

Kimberly Michal , Copy Editor

Madison College’s District Board will likely decide the fate of the Downtown Campus and a proposed expansion of the South Campus during its May 4 meeting.

During the District Board’s April 6 meeting, Dr. Jack E. Daniels III offered his recommendations for those campuses.

His recommendations are based on surveys Madison College conducted over the past two years to better understand, he says, “how we can best meet our mission to serve our students and the residents of the Madison metro area.”

The first is to lease the Downtown Campus grounds, starting as early as July 1, 2018, for a minimum of 50 years.

The request will allow for contingencies, such as maintaining that any leasee would maintain and construct on the property with their own funds, and would have to acquire city approval for such project without the financial or influential assistance from Madison College.

The early child learning, human services, and School of Academic Advancement would all be moved to an undetermined new location and facility.

After the lease agreement has been made the college will form a transition team based on the same model formed for the West Campus. This team will facilitate the movement of programs, faculty, staff, and students into the remaining metro facilities.

For the time being the Downtown Campus will continue to house its current course offerings and add 46 relocated offerings from West Campus increasing number of classes to 111. According to the proposal, by 2018 these classes will be moved to other Madison facilities.

Daniels’ second recommendation would increase square footage and course offerings at the Villager Mall facility for at least two years, with one year lease terms following June 2019 after the long term lease runs out. The campus will then be moved to a new location once one is selected.

He suggests that moving and improving would grant more access to neighborhoods and people with the largest “barriers of opportunity” in Madison. With these expansions of South the facility could offer degree courses in health care and liberal arts and offer continuing education, job training, and bridge programs. No building suggestions for the new south campus will be offered at the upcoming board meeting.

According to Daniels, the biggest motivation for our shift in focus at South Campus is what are called, “barriers to opportunity.” These barriers include segregation, poverty, language, mobility limitations, single-parent families, high housing cost (compared to income), education, high youth concentration, unemployment, and families who are on food stamps.

A special District Board meeting will be held April 20 starting at 4:30 p.m. in Truax Room B3243/3253 to hear public comment on the proposal.

Marline E. Pearson, the chair of the sociology department at Downtown Campus, said she will be representing “dozens of faculty” at the special meeting. On their behalf, she plans to make alternative proposals to Daniels’ recommendations.

Pearson feels that the Downtown Campus has been under advertised. Instead she has seen billboards off the beltline advertising for the West Campus continuing education classes.

In the upcoming semester, Downtown Campus will see many more students. With this influx, faculty are concerned that Madison College is pushing toward short-term lease campuses instead of seeing how this increase will play out at the Downtown Campus.

Pearson suggested that bridge programs that assist students in getting the education they need to start working in biotechnology, health, construction, etc., need to be moved to the current South Campus location so that the under-served community near the location have better access to these programs.

Daniels said that when we consider how we should continue as a technical college that, “We need to think about how the land can serve the institution for the long run, as apposed to the short run.”

Pearson plans to ask the college officials to consider whether “we are going to invest in people or facilities?”

Pearson said, “Daniels has the incredible opportunity to develop a model of success for underprepared students.”

West Campus transition to begin at semester’s end
The “for lease” signs are up at 302 S. Gammon Road, and Madison College’s transition on the west side of Madison is about to begin.

The college has let the $1.6 million lease of the former Famous Footwear building expire, and classes from that campus are now being offered at Truax, Downtown and South campuses for the Summer and Fall 2016 semesters.

College officials intend to seek approval from the District Board during its May 4 meeting to lease a smaller building on the city’s west side, with a targeted opening date of January 2017. The building would provide 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of space for the college to use.

This decision to continue to offer courses on the city’s west side was made earlier during the school year based on data showing that many continuing education students are not willing to travel to other metro campuses for the same courses.

As the college leaves its current west side location, a memorial of sorts is being planned. A West Campus Celebration will be held on Monday, April 25, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the current west campus.