Pierce Puyallup plans for expansion

Enrollment is increasing, forcing college officials to look ahead for future accommodations.

Lizzie DukeReporter

Enrollment is increasing at Pierce College Puyallup and the campus is almost out of classroom and parking space. Pierce College Puyallup President Marty Cavalluzzi has been brainstorming ways to add space in order to allow for the growth, such as having more classrooms.

“We’re just out of space, unless we get really creative,” Cavalluzzi said.

To solve this problem, Pierce staff are looking to identify more space. There’s lots of ways to do it, Cavalluzzi said.

One option is to rearrange courses. This means having earlier morning courses, later night classes, expanding online courses or adding more hybrid courses.

Another option is to build a new building on campus. This is the most expensive, permanent and time-consuming option.

Funding was requested to build another building but wasn’t approved.

“It would be a travesty if people want to come to this college and we can’t fit them,” Cavalluzzi said. “That’s just not right.”

A request was submitted to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges last year for funding of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building. But if the building was constructed or purchased, it may not end up being used for STEM, as general classroom space is the main focus. Once it’s acquired, it could be used for any subject.

A new building, if provided by the state, would be 70,000 square feet. The price to construct this new building would be about $36 million, Cavalluzzi said.

If Pierce were to gain another building, Cavalluzzi wants to expand tutoring, supplemental instruction and create a veteran center. He’d also like to see more student study spaces such as having small rooms for groups, space to practice public speaking and expanding services for having more advisers, allowing for more personal conversations with staff of student services.

Cavalluzzi’s plan also includes expanding the library, as there would be new science labs and thus the bottom floor would be open for other classes.

“Imagine you walk into the library and see this grand staircase going down, (with) light flooding in,” Cavalluzzi said. “Picture the library expanded so all of those things (additional study rooms) connected to the library.”

This is the long-term plan, however, as the request submitted by Pierce was denied, college officials must wait to formally ask for funding again until December 2017. Cavalluzzi plans to keep applying until the money is provided.

“We want to expand,” Cavalluzzi said. “Our goal is to always serve community needs. If the community is growing, which it is, then we have to grow with it.”

Pierce officials will be going back to the SBCTC to discuss the last request to learn what could’ve been done better on their part, though this will not change the current denial.

In the meantime, Cavalluzzi is looking at other options, such as finding an alternate space the college can afford to lease or rent off campus.

One building Cavalluzzi has been looking into purchasing is the South Hill Business Technology Center. It’s vacant, a few miles from campus and is 175 thousand square feet.

“We actually don’t need that much space,” Cavalluzzi said. “But it would be growth space forever.”

Even if funding was acquired, it’d have to be leased to Pierce, because it’s too expensive to buy. Not only would the building provide more classrooms and space, it’d add another parking lot for Pierce students to access.

A road would be constructed to connect to the current road from the Health Education Center by Bradley Lake Park. It’d be the same distance from the new parking lot to the HEC as it’s from the HEC parking lot to the Gaspard Administration Building.

Another building Cavalluzzi has been looking into is the abandoned Lowe’s building that’s used as a Halloween Spirit store during fall. If this building were purchased or leased to Pierce, there would be a shuttle provided from this building to campus so students wouldn’t have to walk.

Cavalluzzi hopes to have made a decision on a new space by winter quarter 2017. Though a new building, if approved, is years away. A 20-year possible plan for the Puyallup campus was created by an architect with input from students, facilities, the chancellor, community members and Cavalluzzi.

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Pierce Puyallup plans for expansion

by Lizzie Duke time to read: 3 min