By Laura Rowe
When students enter in the front doors of the new Mid-State Technical College, they will be welcomed to a beautiful oasis of learning. Located in the heart of downtown Stevens Point and near the Wisconsin Riverfront, the building radiates warmly with an open layout plan, naturally vibrant color scheme and appealing spaces for meeting, sharing and learning.
“This new space allows us to can be more responsive to the needs of our local workforce,” said Stevens Point Campus Dean Steve Smith. “It also allows us to offer more services in-house.”
The college had outgrown its existing campus on Michigan Avenue, space it had rented from the city of Stevens Point. Increased student enrollment, coupled with limited space, left students and staff crowded.
“We were maxed out in our Michigan Avenue building, “Smith said.”Sometimes if people had to study, we had to tell them to go to their car.”
The new site nearly doubles the available space (from 36,000 to 54,000 square feet) and is owned by the college.
The first students will start summer school at the new campus June 2. By June 30, they hope to have offices entirely moved out of the former campus on Michigan Avenue, Smith said. By the start of fall semester in mid-August, everything will be located on the new campus.
With student success as their focus, the design of the new campus will allow for less “seat time,” Smith said, adding that learning is moving toward a more hybrid fusion style with on-line/computer work coupled with traditional classroom time.
The technical college now offers over 100 programs and certificates at the Stevens Point Campus and its success is evident in its student workforce. “Eighty-eight percent of our graduates have jobs within the first six months of graduating,” said Karl Easttorp, MSTC director of communications.
Features located inside the new building include:
• New Learning Commons with numerous computer stations; Academic Success Center and library.
• Four computer labs, including a Mac lab, and two labs with technology for virtual learning.
• New student lounge located on 2,000 foot mezzanine overlooking campus lobby.
• Wireless campus.
• Hand painted contemporary art throughout building, created by artist Mave Alft of Wisconsin Rapids.
• New computer network lab designed and built entirely by students in the network specialist program.
• Private group study areas for students with dry-erase marker walls for writing and group collaboration.
• New science lab.
• Relocation of Early Childhood Education program from Wisconsin Rapids to Stevens Point.
• Other programs housed in the new building include: farm business & production management, accounting, administrative professional, business management, IT-network specialist, IT-programmer/analyst, judicial reporting, marketing, medical transcription, office support specialist, supervisory management, pharmacy technician, phlebotomy technician, emergency medical technician (EMT), medical assistant, and nursing assistant.
• Newer programs to be offered include gerontology, and health and wellness promotion.
• Community Engagement Room for public use for special events, along with additional meeting space for leaders of all colleges in MSTC district, including Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield and Adams-Friendship.
• Four separate entrances.
• Specialty-designed room to offer college placement exams, including ACT and SATs.
• Free computer clinic which allows members of the general public to drop off their ailing computers to be fixed by students at no charge (except for parts).
The building has plenty of room now to comfortably accommodate the 2,800 students attending MSTC., as well as the many groups who come to the campus weekly from around the state, Smith said.
Downtown business owners already are preparing for the influx of additional student traffic in the downtown area, Smith said. The campus does not have a cafeteria, so many will be eating and shopping downtown. (Read Jim Moran’s article on Square Scoop’s new offerings in this issue of Scene.) And parking has been greatly increased, both for students and downtown shoppers.
“Access to this facility is fabulous,”” Smith said, adding that parking often was at a premium at the location near Goerke Park.
Much of the former building has been saved and can be seen in the new structure, Smith pointed out. The campus is located in a portion of the former CenterPoint Marketplace and J.C. Penney’s store.
(sidebar to MSTC story)
The public is invited to the open house celebration for the MSTC Stevens Point campus from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at 1001 Centerpoint Drive. The celebration also marks the school’s 1ooth anniversary.
The event will include free food — ice cream & root beer floats, cookies, and Subway subs. Tours of the new building will be provided, showcasing many of the college’s programs. A short ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. The night’s festivities also include a “100 Years of Trivia” contest and music provided by the local band “Head Over Heels.”