Kenai Peninsula College had some unfinished business to take care of Thursday.
A plaque dedicated to Clayton Brockel, the college’s founding director, was unveiled in the Clayton E. Brockel Building Thursday night.
“Brockel started the college out of his briefcase, a closet-sized office in Kenai Central High School, and ‘Old Blue,’ a 1963 Chevy Biscayne ... ,” the plaque reads. “His dedication to the college and all the Kenai Peninsula community continued long after his retirement. His commitment to education as an administrator, teacher, and life-long learner will always be remembered.”
The University of Alaska Board of Regents approved the naming of the building and the plaque back in June of 1983.
“So today we’re going to unveil a plaque 29 years too late,” KPC Director Gary Turner said.
Thursday and Friday were busy days on campus. The Board of Regents were holding their meeting at the KPC Kenai River Campus both days, an event that happens only once every 9 years. The regents were also part of a ground breaking ceremony for the new Career and Technical Education building and the new student housing building.
“When Clayton was here as the director, he tried to get housing back then, and got real close,” Turner said to the crowd. “With these projects, it took somebody at the legislative level to make this happen. (Rep.) Mike Chenault was the key to get that rolling and starting.”
The two projects, approved by the Board of Regents in September, come with a combined price tag of about $20 million, Phillip Miller, KPC construction manager said.
Both projects will give the campus room to grow. The housing building will hold 96 student beds plus six resident advisors. In an interview last November, Turner said the enrollment over the last five years has increased 53 percent.
Regent Carl Marrs, who was born and raised in Seldovia, praised the college’s growth.
“It’s been astronomical, especially in the last 10 years,” Marrs said. “This thing has just taken off and the college here on the Peninsula has done very well.”
Miller said the Career and Technical Center was released for public bidding last week, and the bidding for the housing building should be released by the end of April or early May.
“Those projects are going to progress and hopefully we’ll get some good bids,” Miller said. “And we can get these things up and out of the ground before winter comes and move forward.”
Projects such as these are a rare find on community campuses, University of Alaska Anchorage Project Manager Summer Sauve said.
“At the community campus level, these are two big projects,” she said. “I normally do stuff (valued at) $1 to $3 million. So this is a much bigger magnitude, this only happens once every five to 10 years.”
As Brockel was shown the plaque dedicated in his honor, he shared some words with the crowd.
“I’d like to say on behalf of my wife and I, it’s always been a privilege watching this college grow,” he said. “It’s kind of been hard on my ego because I realize once I retired all of this is being done without me. Thank you.”