Butte College comes to Chico

ALL ABOARD! Lisa DeLaby welcomes the throngs of people into the new Butte College Chico Center that opened on Dec. 4.

ALL ABOARD! Lisa DeLaby welcomes the throngs of people into the new Butte College Chico Center that opened on Dec. 4.

Photo By Tom Angel

Butte College students will now be able to spend more time in the classroom and less time in their cars.

The new, fully equipped Butte College Chico Center opened its doors on Dec. 4 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, live entertainment and refreshments.

Addressing a crowd of about 1,000 people, Butte College President Diana Van Der Ploeg said the 54,000 square-foot facility was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

She said 40 percent of the work was done by local contractors and that it took 800 workers and around 73,000 man-hours to complete the $16.3 million project.

“Something like this doesn’t happen without putting in a lot of hard work,” Van Der Ploeg said.

She said the college was keeping its promise to voters who approved Measure A, the $85 million bond measure passed in 2002.

After Van Der Ploeg snipped the red ribbon with a pair of oversized gold scissors, the crowd poured into the building to check out the new classrooms and computer labs as music from the Charlie Haynes Uptown Jazz trio and The Butte College Estrellas Band wafted through the halls.

The new center is equipped with 18 lecture rooms that cater to specific subjects, including music, journalism and foreign language. In addition, there are conference rooms, four computer labs, a new bookstore and the Butte College Training Place, which provides training and support for businesses and their employees.

The Chico Center will also feature “smart classrooms” equipped with VCRs, DVD players and video projectors that are controlled by a central computer.

“They’ll be able to expose students to a lot more information, more rapidly,” said Myron Curtis, one of several faculty members on hand to provide information on the various programs available through the college.

The new facility will replace the old Chico Center located on Cohasset Road and will no doubt alleviate parking and space problems. The old building was used for more than a decade and accommodated about 400 students at a time.

The larger center will also save students from having to make the trek out to the main campus.

Rick Trites, an employee at Costco Wholesale, said he was kicking around the idea of taking classes at Butte for years. He said he talked himself out of going to school when looking at the prospect of working 40 hours a week, raising his family and trying to find time to drive out to the campus.

“Now that the facility is so close, there’s no excuse not to go,” said Trites, who said he was planning to attend in the spring.

Matt Jackson, vice president of Student Educational Programs and Services, said the center will double the college’s instructional capacity by serving 1,000 students per hour.

“It’s going to be a great asset to the community," Jackson said. "It’s all about access."