College Presidents Say Programs Key to Economic Growth


Presidents of the four San Fernando Valley community colleges see their campuses as major contributors to the region's economic climate.

At a meeting hosted Wednesday by Cal State Northridge and the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, the presidents discussed job training programs on their campuses.

"We're working together not only for our own colleges but also the economic development of the San Fernando Valley," said Adriana Barrera, president of Mission College in Sylmar.

The education leaders--John Davitt of Glendale Community College, Rocky Young of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Tyree Wieder of Valley College in Valley Glen and Barrera--also discussed plans for campus construction projects. In April, voters approved Proposition A, which will provide $1.25 billion to Los Angeles community colleges for construction.

The colleges, with a combined enrollment of more than 60,000, "comprise an economic powerhouse," said David Fleming, chairman of the Economic Alliance.

NASA Helping Fund Glendale Science Center

Davitt described the JPL Science Center that will be built on his Glendale campus starting in October. The center, one of six such NASA learning stations in the country, will feature a state-of-the-art planetarium and laboratories.

The college received funding for the project from NASA, the state and private donors. (Glendale, which serves 25,000 students, is in its own district and is not included in Proposition A, which just covers Los Angeles Community College District.)

Davitt also discussed the college's job training programs, which range from aviation technology to the culinary arts.

At Pierce College, Young said the Woodland Hills campus has "climbed out of an abyss," referring to increasing enrollment--now at 17,000--after a number of years in a slump.

Young said Pierce students receive job training either directly or indirectly in all college programs.

With deep roots in Valley agriculture, Pierce maintains the tradition through programs focusing on veterinarian training, equine sciences and the distribution and marketing aspects of agriculture, he said.

'With Proposition A, We'll Really Shine'

Future campus buildings, which will be designed to conserve energy and water, will include a student services center, a technology center, permanent buildings to replace temporary bungalow-style classrooms, a library and parking lots, Young said.

"Now, with Proposition A, we'll really shine. [It] is going to be a major rejuvenation for Pierce," he said. The school will receive $166 million from the bond.

Barrera said Mission will continue to provide programs related to child care and development for its student population of 7,000. Mission's $111-million share of the bond will be spent on 10 new classrooms and a multileveled parking lot, among other projects, she said.

Wieder said Valley College will receive $165 million for the construction of a library, a health services center and a media arts academy. Some existing buildings will be modernized.

Wieder also spoke about the college's projects with such Valley businesses as Target stores and DreamWorks SKG, which provide jobs, training and internships for students.

"Our job is to get people in the workplace and then move you up in the ladder," she said.

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