What is Cabrillo Planning to do with $274.1 Million?
By Suki Wessling
Local voters haven’t been fond of passing bonds lately, and Cabrillo hasn’t had one in sixteen years. The college was turned down by voters the last time they asked, so President Matthew Wetstein is trying to make sure this time that it’s clear that this upgrade of Cabrillo’s facilities is a sound investment for our county. Here are some highlights of where the money will go.
New Science Building - $84 Million
When Cabrillo College was founded in 1959, the personal computer wasn’t yet invented. Mobile phones—I mean, tricorders—hadn’t yet made their debut on Star Trek. Hip replacements, LEDs, hoverboards, and Post-It Notes were still in the distant future.
All that is to say, Cabrillo’s facilities are a little out of date.
“The idea here is to build a new building with modern fume hoods, ventilation system, and up-to-code to modern standards,” Wetstein explains. “Essentially the modern labs that the students are going to see when they transfer or go into the workforce.”
That science is the biggest piece of the bond pie isn’t a surprise—Cabrillo is an important option for local STEM students who want to do their general education near home and then transfer to a four-year university. It also offers plenty of STEM-based AA degrees and certificates.
Library Renovation - $72.9 Million
Students still do read books, Wetstein is quick to point out. But the function of libraries has changed dramatically since the 60s.
“We’re envisioning a modern library rather than your father’s or grandfather’s version,” Wetstein jokes. “So much of our learning today is collaborative.”
Space-hogging periodicals and reference books are no more; these days students are looking for a library with collaborative work space, a tutoring center, and whiteboards…not to mention books!
Co-Locate All Student Services in 200 Building - $60.7 Million
Currently, students enrolling at Cabrillo get a good workout. In the space of a few hours they may be required to visit four different buildings on the hilly campus. As good as that may be for their health, it’s not so great from an administrative perspective.
The new building will have “everything you think about a student needing at the start of their career here,” Wetstein explains. That includes registration, financial aid, counseling, career planning, and even clubs.
Watsonville Public Safety Center - $23 Million
This new consolidated space for training our firefighters, police officers, and other public safety workers will have plenty of room for growth in South County.
“It’s drawn a lot of interest and support from the folks who run police and fire agencies,” Wetstein says. “Right now they’re having to train folks over the hill. We should be doing that training here in our county for county jobs.”
And bonus: Yes, they will have a Live Fire Training Tower that they will set on fire, over and over!
IT and Facilities Allocation - $17 Million
Currently IT facilities at both campuses are outdated and not redundant. So if something bad happens to the Aptos campus (such as a fire season power outage), all IT goes offline. This upgrade will add redundancy and update facilities, hardware, and software so the college is ready to meet IT challenges in the future.
Reconfigure Instructional Classrooms for Larger Lecture Halls - $11 Million
The title of this one may be misleading. Wetstein points out that students detest the existing cavernous 250-seat lecture hall with its wooden seats. These new “larger” classrooms would be smaller and more comfortable, fitting a greater number of concurrent 75-seat classes in the same footprint.
Building Modernization – CA State Match - $3 Million
The State has already approved funds; Cabrillo just needs matching funds in order to move forward.
Critical Needs - $2.5 Million
Cabrillo is saving a small piece of the pie for what Westein refers to as those “oopsies” that projections can’t foresee.