PIERCE COLLEGE : Budget Squeeze Delays Opening of Computer Lab

Compiled from reports of campus correspondents and Times staff writers

The opening of a centralized computer lab at Pierce College, originally set for this spring, has been put off until fall of 1991 because of college budget difficulties, school officials said.

The lab, which in its early stages will cost about $110,000 annually, is to be used by students taking a wide range of computer and non-computer classes, said Kathy Yoder, who chairs the Computer Lab Committee at the Woodland Hills campus.

Yoder said a recent survey of academic departments at Pierce found that representatives of nearly all of them said that they would like to see the computer lab installed and that at least 10 departments would be able to immediately use the computers.

The delay puts the campus, the only school in the Los Angeles Community College District without a central computer facility that can be used by any student on campus, even further behind.

"We are way behind the times compared to most community colleges," said Peter Schleppenbach, a computer science professor who is a computer committee member. Other "colleges are talking about sharing software nationwide and we don't even have any networking yet."

"Academic computing has brought us into the age where we can throw away the chalkboard," Schleppenbach said. "An art history student, for example, could use a videodisc to call up half a million pictures. Instructors will be able to spend more time orchestrating their classes, rather than doing tedium stuff such as correcting homework."

Pierce now has computers available for students taking computer-related classes but not for other students.

Bill Norlund, vice president of administration, said Pierce's 1989-90 budget of $27 million could be in the red by as much as $200,000 by the end of the year.

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