Ron Stallings of Blazy Construction cleans windows in the new addition to the Walter E. Ward building at Kenai Peninsula College as students head inside for an open house Thursday afternoon.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
There’s an old cliche that states, “If you build it, they will come.” That certainly was the case Thursday as Kenai Peninsula College held its open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for a newly constructed addition to the Walter Ward Building.
“It feels great,” said KPC Director Gary Turner in regard to the completion of the new facility.
“It was much needed,” he added. “Last semester we had eight classes off campus. This won’t fill the void, but it will definitely help.”
The $1.4 million, 4,000-square feet building was built by Blazy Construction and will host three new classrooms. The rooms will have movable walls that can be opened to create a tiered auditorium space with a capacity of 220 people. A portable stage will make the space the new home for KPC Showcase programs and other performances.
Todd Marshall-Closson, student union president for the KPC Kenai River Campus, said he is excited about the new addition.
“These new classrooms will help open up a lot more. We’re growing at an exponential rate. We’re going to need new buildings,” he said.
Marshall-Closson also is the speaker of the Coalition of Student Leaders, a position that puts him in touch with several other universities, and he said the word is the same at all of them.
“KPC is becoming the premier school for new programs. We’re starting to hear from students in Anchorage and Fairbanks that say they want to come here for classes. They want to come here for new programs,” he said.
Many of these new programs, such as paramedical technology and digital art both of which are associate of applied science degrees may eventually have classes taught in the new building.
“The building will also house the new student health clinic, making us the only community campus in the university system with one,” Turner said.
Turner explained that the clinic was included to satisfy an existing demand by students to provide health care services and options to purchase health insurance through the university’s provider Mega Life and Health Insurance Company.
“The student union went to the student body and they voted overwhelmingly in support of the it,” he said.
The clinic will be maintained through a partnership with Central Peninsula General Hospital via a service provider agreement, but will be self supporting, using no state-provided funds.
Instead it will be paid for by students through a $5 per-credit fee for students taking six or more credits with a maximum fee of $75 per semester.
“The campus had 539 students fitting this category in fall 2005,” Turner said.
Optional student health insurance will be available at a cost of $336 per semester. As such, students taking 15 credit hours opting to purchase insurance and paying the mandatory clinic fee of $75, would pay a total of $411 per semester. Since a semester is roughly four months long, this equates to $103 per month for coverage.
Turner said that the clinic will be staffed by Jennifer Henry, a registered nurse practitioner from Soldotna who will use her advanced academic and clinical experience to diagnose and manage many common and chronic illnesses, either independently or as part of a health care team.
The ribbon cutting for the new building Thursday evening and was attended by Walter Ward, the building’s namesake; Clayton Brockel, KPC’s founding director; Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams and several University of Alaska dignitaries.
Open house activities, including campus tours, faculty demonstrations and walk-in registration, continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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