Salt Lake Community College is heading out west.
By the fall semester of 2015, SLCC’s ever-growing footprint will stretch to West Valley City, Utah’s second largest city by population, as a new learning center will be opened to the public.
The West Valley Center, as it will be known, gives West Valley City their first in-town site for higher learning, as well as the ninth SLCC location across the Salt Lake Valley.
While certainly not lacking for market size or prospering business operations, SLCC leadership feels the newly developed campus brings the city something they are sorely missing.
“For me, I spent a lot of years growing up in West Valley,” says Coordinator of Student Success Initiatives, Claudia Gutierrez-Sanchez. “I’m excited for the population to have that accessibility to not just Salt Lake Community College, but higher education in general.
“There’s no higher education presence out there, so I’m excited for them to have that at their backdoor.”
An extended stay
Originally a Rite-Aid store, the building occupies 27,000 square feet and features nine classrooms, one of which will be a computer lab. SLCC’s initial lease is for 10 years, with a renewal option at the end of the contract.
Nate Southerland, SLCC Assistant Provost of Academic Support, explained West Valley has discussed redeveloping the surrounding area of the campus, and that if redevelopment were to come to fruition, they would like SLCC as one of their “anchor tenants” — hence, the long-term lease.
“If they do redevelop, we’ll be there. And if they don’t redevelop, we’ll be there,” says Southerland with a laugh.
Opportunities for inclusion, advancement
Though most would agree SLCC boasts an already-wide range of ages, ethnicities and backgrounds in their student body, one of the initiatives in opening the West Valley Center is to further increase religious and social diversity.
According to Southerland, the surrounding area demographic is almost 50 percent non-white, and noted the “non-traditional” student was something they targeted.
“I’m excited for our non-traditional students in that area who may not be able to travel easily to some of our other campuses, it makes it easier for them to go back to school,” says Southerland. “So people who are working, have kids, or other things in their lives, we’ll make it easier for them.”
In addition to increased diversity, the other major priority for SLCC brass is aiding the area’s local high schools in sending more high school graduates off to college. They contend it starts simply with a local presence.
“The four high schools in that area — Hunter, Granger, Kearns and Cyprus — have some of the lower rates of college-going in Salt Lake County,” says Southerland. “I don’t know how many of the students actually view themselves as ‘Hey, I can do this, I can go to college.’
“Having something in their area that we can bring them to so that they can experience college and realize they can do it, is pretty compelling for me.”