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For Immediate Release
September 16, 2014

Lower Columbia College will introduce its new star on campus, the LCC Health & Science Building, with a Community Open House on Saturday, September 20, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The event will feature building tours, an opportunity to meet healthcare and science faculty in their labs, and an OMSI Science Fest.

The three-story, brick and glass building is almost 70,000 square feet. It houses all LCC science programs (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Environmental Studies and Physics) which were previously located in three separate buildings, all constructed over 40 years ago, long before current technology and lab features were a critical part of college learning. The second floor brings together LCC nursing, medical assisting and allied health programs in one location with upgraded technology, lab designs and equipment.

Construction, design and land acquisition costs for the building totaled approximately $38 million. Community college facilities are state-funded through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges' capital budget; funds are collected as part of student tuition and allocated by the State Legislature.  Construction started in July 2012, after a decade-long wait as the project worked its way through the funding process and then weathered recession delays to state capital budget funding.

Saving Energy And The Environment

The building is LEED Gold certified, recognizing significant efforts to create a facility with maximum energy efficiencies. Environmental features include two kinds of solar panels, energy efficient lighting that adjusts with natural light and motion sensors, hydration stations to keep plastic bottles out of landfills, efficient heating and cooling, recycling centers and two charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot.

Solar energy systems can provide up to 10 percent of the building’s power needs and the whole facility uses less energy than the average building on campus. Landscaping incorporates a rain garden design which captures storm-water runoff and keeps it out of local watersheds. A green roof on the third floor study deck offers similar features.

Student Success And Community Partners

The building design also supports LCC's Student Success initiatives providing spaces on all floors for students to meet and study and to bring faculty and students together outside the classroom. Research shows that this kind of interaction and cohort study increases student success. Digital displays and interactive computer screens on each floor keep students and faculty informed about important dates and upcoming activities.

Community partnerships are key to the new facility, which includes the 145-seat Laufman Lecture Hall available for community events as well as education needs. Paul Laufman, LCC Class of 1958 and retired from a career developing propulsion systems for space travel, will give two lectures on Saturday.

The adjacent McLaughlin Community Resource Center provides space for students to work on projects outside of class and also to host community science activities such as STEM workshops for middle and high school students. A new 165-space parking lot adjacent to the west entrance serves students during class hours and visitors attending special events in the building. Outside the east entrance, students can gather at the Marylou Schall Memorial Plaza named for a longtime, dedicated LCC staff member whose estate gift continues to support students and athletics.

Throughout the facility, $1.7 million in new equipment can be found thanks to receipt of an Economic Development Administration (EDA) matching grant received in May. The LCC Foundation was the sole provider of the $845,000 match. Significant support from our Congressional delegation and local business and industry employers, along with donations for the match to the LCC Foundation, were key to LCC receiving the EDA Grant.

Why STEM?

Timing for the new facility couldn’t be better with the increasing demand for graduates in both healthcare and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers. Seven of the ten fastest growing occupations in the U.S. are in STEM fields.

In Washington State, 80% of 25,000 vacant jobs are in STEM fields, 16 of the 25 highest-paying jobs require STEM preparation and STEM workers earn 26% more than their peers in non-STEM positions.

LCC is the smart choice for local students pursuing a career in science or healthcare because 35% of all STEM majors and 46% of all healthcare majors at Washington universities started at a community college. LCC graduates are well prepared for upper division studies. LCC transfer students earn an average 3.34 GPA in their junior and senior studies at state universities. They realize significant savings in tuition costs and living expenses by completing lower division studies at LCC, $20,000 per year or more.

The majority of LCC nursing graduates successfully earn Registered Nursing certification each year and a new program with Washington State University Vancouver at the Lower Columbia Regional University Center enables them to also complete a BS in Nursing degree locally.

Classes for all science and healthcare programs begin September 22 in the new building. Labs, classrooms and offices previously used by these programs are being remodeled to serve other campus needs. One of LCC’s oldest buildings, the Instructional Office Building, will be demolished later this year. The building houses offices for Language and Literature faculty and the College Relations and Marketing staff.

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News Media Contact:

 Wendy Hall, Associate Vice President, Effectiveness & College Relations, Lower Columbia College

  360.442.2491
  whall@lowercolumbia.edu

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