From Cows to Penguins

Late last month, not too far from where Hank Boschma’s 200 head of Holsteins used to graze, Clark College officials walked through the design and construction plans they have for the nearly 70-acre north county satellite campus that will be opening its doors in Fall 2021.

The occasion was the monthly Board of Trustees meeting. Rather than gather in the Ellis Dunn Conference Room of Gaiser Hall on the main campus as they usually do, college officials met in the library of View Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield, less than 3 miles west of the future campus construction site.

Among the Ridgefield leaders who attended the March 16 meeting was Mayor Ron Onslow, who welcomes the campus to his community. Onslow noted that 95 percent of Ridgefield High School students graduate and many of them are college bound.

But many Ridgefield students, college officials predict, are likely to attend the Clark campus even before they graduate. Clark Vice President for Instruction Tim Cook said in a recent interview that a large portion of Running Start students live in the region.

Cook said there are 1,700 Running Start students who live in north county and drive to the main Clark campus. The VPI said the new satellite campus, which will be northeast of the Interstate 5 junction with Pioneer Street, will offer basic courses for high school-age students.

“We know that general education and transfer courses will be offered,” Cook said.

Other academic plans under consideration are advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and math courses, he said.

Meanwhile, Cook also said the college has hired the consulting firm MacKay Sposito to analyze employment and census data before making hard and fast decisions about additional curriculum. Cook said the focus is to offer courses designed to arm a student with the skills set to get a job in an economy that is becoming increasingly automated and technical.

Vice President of Administration Bob Williamson, who illustrated the design and construction plans at the Ridgefield board meeting last month, said the project is still awaiting capital funding.

“It’s not a done deal,” Williamson said.

Williamson said that Clark’s pre-design, design and construction have been put in a pipeline to receive funding over the next two bienniums by the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges and the Legislature still needs to appropriate the capital dollars.

Williamson said that while it’s possible the state could partially fund or flat out deny funding, he is confident that will not be the case. He pointed to a vastly improved, consistent, sustained economy, but warned that nothing is guaranteed until the legislature appropriates the funds.

“Clark’s presence will offer access and opportunity for businesses and the community,” Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart said.

Stuart went on to say the campus will be a great selling point and a local, built-in workforce.

The campus will be built on almost 70 acres of land. The Clark College Foundation purchased land from former dairy farmers Hank and Bernice Boschma in 2014 for $5.67 million. The family also donated $3.1 million in land as part of the deal, for a total of 59.24 acres. The elderly couple emigrated from Holland to Ridgefield and took their American citizenship tests at Clark College.

“They epitomize the American Dream,” said Clark College President Bob Knight.

Adjacent property of 10.28 acres was purchased from Ridgefield East 1 Associates, LLC. for $1.99 million, with $731,549 in land being donated.

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