College building ready, one to go

PUHI — Going to college is hard work, finding out about college shouldn’t be, said Dr. John Morton, vice president for the University of Hawai‘i system of community colleges.

Morton was one of several visiting dignitaries present for the dedication of the new One Stop Center building located near the entrance to Kaua‘i Community College.

With classes for the fall semester penciled in to begin in exactly one week, the ceremonies were punctuated by students who mingled with the crowd of more than 150 people.

“This just goes to show that it takes the support of not just the college, but the entire University of Hawai‘i system,” said Peggy Cha, the current KCC chancellor who was accompanied by Helen Cox, the new chancellor who will take over Cha’s office when she retires in about a week.

Cha said the concept for the new building was described in Morton’s comments, and getting the building to materialize took the example set by Kaua‘i County in its multi-agency Workforce Development program.

Prior to the One Stop Center, Cha said students would be taking placement tests in building hallways and other areas where they could find space.

Students would have to go from the counseling offices in the student services building to the administration building to pay fees and back to the bookstore to acquire the materials they needed for classes.

Morton said Cha was correct in her motivation for creating a one-stop shop for students.

“The One Stop Center is a place where students will be able to conveniently apply for admission into KCC, receive information and counseling regarding the various degree programs offered by the college as well as the University of Hawai‘i through its various degree programs offered by the college as well as the University of Hawai‘i through its University Center. They can also inquire about financial aid and job openings as well as pay for tuition and other fees,” Gary Nitta, director of administrative services, said.

The new building, which broke ground in November 2006, covers 33,000 square feet under a roof with 28 individual offices, a career library, four conference rooms, a large testing room where students can take their placement and other exams, and a lobby area where Nitta said he hopes people will gather and enjoy works of art and small events for up to a hundred people.

“Our technical staff from the University of Hawai‘i and other consultants are currently reviewing various alternative energy solutions for the center,” he said.

In addition to the spacious interior, Nitta said the exterior landscaping also has significance.

“The native Hawaiian landscape reminds us of the need to preserve and protect our native plants,” Nitta said. “The walkways are imprinted with a variety of native plant leaves which represent the diverse student population and the many dreams and aspirations the students have and expect to fulfill at KCC.”

Nitta said KCC professor Brian Yamamoto scoured the island from Wainiha to Koke‘e for the leaves and the placement took approximately four months to complete. There were 40 sections where the artwork is laid out.

The arrangement of the leaves show that education is a path forward and the kukui nut leaves represent enlightenment as the kukui candle nut is the source of light, he said.

Dr. Ramon DelaPena, the Kaua‘i Regent for the University of Hawai‘i, said, “This is just the first one. There’s going to be another building to this.”

Roland Libby, a design consultant with AM Partners worked with the design, and Roger Ferguson and Gerry Smith served as the project managers for building contractor Bodell Construction.

Herb Iwai, Mike French, Russell Maeda and Bob Anderson of SSFM were project inspectors coordinated by Maynard Young, UH architect.

Nitta said KCC staff members Calvin Shirai, Yamamoto, Patrick Watase and Tom Kajihara were also involved in the project.

Cha said having the building near the entrance to the campus is a good way to show the island that this is its University of Hawai‘i at Kaua‘i.

Morton said, “Bring the students on.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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