November 30, 2011 | 07:58 AMELKHORN — Gateway Technical College officials cut the ribbon on an early Christmas gift for the Elkhorn campus.
The $1.5 million, 7,500 square-foot Alice J. Morava wing was officially opened during special ceremonies on Nov. 15.
The new addition, on the campus' north side, contains two major components of the Elkhorn campus, the student services offices and the library. It's named after Alice J. Morava of Williams Bay, a member of the Gateway Board of Directors, who recently stepped down after 15 years of service to Gateway.
"I think we all feel Christmas arrived a little early on the Elkhorn campus," said Roger Zacharias, a board member.
He said the new addition shows that Gateway, which also has campuses in Racine and Kenosha counties, prizes its presence in Walworth County.
"We want to see the Elkhorn campus grow," Zacharias said.
Morava, a Williams Bay resident for 50 years, said she was involved at Gateway first as a student, and then as a member of the board of directors.
"My role now is a cheerleader," she said.
Morava said the new addition will help the Elkhorn campus pursue Gateway's three educational goals:
- Improving skills to pursue a gratifying career.
- Improving the ability to think critically.
- Improving writing skills.
"This has been a very special day for me," she said.
Michael J. O'Donnell, Elkhorn's dean of campus affairs, said work on the addition started on April 21. It was substantially completed and in use by the first week of October. The main contractor was Riley Construction of Kenosha; Partners in Design Architects, also of Kenosha, did exterior and interior design work.
While the opening of the Morava wing might be an early Christmas gift, it's been on the waiting list for some time.
Gateway College President Bryan Albrecht said that the college had design plans going back 35 years ago for this space. The Gateway Elkhorn campus first opened its doors in 1971.
The real star of the new addition is the new library. Bright and airy, it's not much bigger than the old library, but it gives a spacious impression, said Narees Breach, library secretary.
"Everyone says the other (library) was cramped," Breach said. A better design has resulted in space being more efficiently used.
"It is just more convenient," Breach said.
Visitors to the library are also impressed by the panoramic view afforded by the wall of windows to the west, said Breach.
And along the north wall are four rooms that can be used for private study or for group projects, O'Donnell said. Each room has a white board, a computer, and internet connection and one room can become a video conference center, he said.
The rooms will be available to students on a first-come, first-served basis, O'Donnell said.
Breach, who has to keep count of library use, estimated that since the doors opened in October, about 500 more people per month are now using the library.
Sylvia Linton is the Elkhorn campus librarian, although her formal title is library instruction and reference specialist. She not only works in the library, she also teaches library science.
While impressed with the public side of the library, Linton said she was particularly impressed with the library's back end, which has loads of storage for all of the library's electronic gadgets. A large, single back room provides loads of shelf space for the library's Mac and PC computers, cameras, cassette players, Kindles, even a PlayStation, all of which can be checked out by students on a first come first served basis
In the old library, all of that equipment was stored in a closet "and you had to literally climb over stuff to get to what you wanted," Linton said.
Card catalogs and guides to periodical literature are all accessible by computer now. The library also has streaming videos of medical procedures for students taking nursing and medical-technical courses, Linton said.
"It's not that we have more stuff than before, it's that we provide access to more stuff than before," Linton said.
Across from the library is the student services center, which used to be on the south end of the campus.
Stacy Riley, executive director of enrollment services, said she's happy with the new location and its open design. The old student services center, on the south side of the campus, was divided into offices and cubicles.
"Our goal was to have a space where staff and students might interact better," Riley said.
While workstations are open and accessible, the call center and telephones are behind a curved half wall, out of the way.
Riley said she still enjoys coming to her new offices through the new front door of the college.
"It's a great, classy environment," she said.
With the library and student services center now in new locations, the spaces where the old library and services centers were will be open to new uses.
Plans call for the old library space to become a student support area, while the former student services space is being temporarily assigned as faculty space, O'Donnell said.
Plans also call for a new fitness center and a faculty innovation center, where teachers learn new skills and how to use new equipment and technology, he said.