Worth the wait: OCC dedicates its new College Center building

Coast Community College District Board of Trustees President Jim Moreno prepares to cut the ribbon.
Coast Community College District Board of Trustees President Jim Moreno prepares to cut the ribbon at the College Center Building dedication. Left to right: Costa Mesa Councilwoman Andrea Marr; Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens; Board Member Mary Hornbuckle; Jim Moreno; OCC President Dr. Angelica Suarez; OC Supervisor Katrina Foley; tBP/Architecture CEO/Design Principal Gary Moon; Board Member Lorraine Prinsky; OCC Culinary Arts student Lindsay Taeger; Coast Community College District Chancellor Dr. John Weispfenning; OCC Food Service General Manager Thomas Selzer; Nutrition and Dietetics student Bonifacio Arrieta Cortes; OCC faculty member Bill Barber; Board Member David Grant.
(Spencer Grant)

A celebration a year in the making took place at Orange Coast College on Friday, as the institution officially dedicated its new College Center building.

Orange Coast College’s culinary arts and hospitality programs call the new facility home. The College Center is now the largest building on campus at 119,000 square feet.

Costa Mesa Mayor John Stephens called attention to the city’s slogan: “The city of the arts.” In appreciating art in all its forms, he asked the crowd to consider the architectural feat.

“We are second to none because here we have great architecture,” Stephens said of the city. “And for generations and for decades, people are going to go down Fairview [Road] in Costa Mesa, and they’ll see this building, and they will remember that we are the city of the arts.”

Nutrition and dietetics student Bonifacio Arrieta Cortes and culinary arts student Lindsay Taeger ring the dedication bell.
Nutrition and dietetics student Bonifacio Arrieta Cortes and culinary arts student Lindsay Taeger ring the “dedication bell” before the ribbon cutting ceremony.
(Spencer Grant)

Those that were in the programs now housed by the College Center remember studying and working in a more intimate setting, but they are excited about the chance to continue their work in a bigger and better facility.

“Little did we know our little cocoon would soon turn into a big, beautiful butterfly,” Lindsay Taeger, a culinary arts student at OCC, said. “While the new College Center brings with it the physical space we may have been lacking before, we are quickly seasoning this new cast-iron ham with the same friendships, knowledge, memories and accomplishments we made in the old student center.”

The College Center has a large student dining area and an on-campus restaurant called the Captain’s Table.

The administration offices are also in the building, which was originally set to be dedicated in 2020 before being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

OCC President Dr. Angelica Suarez.
(Spencer Grant)

Several speakers, including Jim Moreno, the president of the Coast Community College District’s board of trustees, thanked the local community for investing in education. Roughly $82 million went toward the construction of the College Center, the funds for which were provided through the passing of Measure M, a $698-million bond measure that was on the ballot in 2012.

Measure M aimed to provide financial backing for facility construction and renovations at Coastline Community College, Golden West College and Orange Coast College.

“Because of the will of the people, we have the capacity to serve our community,” Moreno said. “These are your colleges. These are your buildings. This building behind me is yours, and we are fortunate to live in a district that invests in the future of our students and holds onto the belief that our nation’s strength begins with education, and we put our money where our mouth is.”

Stephens added that Orange Coast College is positioned in the heart of Costa Mesa, and not just from a geographical perspective.

“This is incredible,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, once an Orange Coast College student herself. “This is a university-style campus ..., and we can’t do it without the support of the community.”

OCC Food Service General Manager Thomas Selzer.
(Spencer Grant)

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