Even though classes have been taking place at Tri-C’s Westshore Campus’s first building since January, college officials and community members officially celebrated its grand opening Thursday with indoor pyrotechnics and confetti cannons.
J. Michael Thomson, president of the Westshore Campus, said the institution’s fourth campus is a historic occasion for Cuyahoga Community College. The campus, which will eventually consist of three buildings by 2015, represents a permanent commitment to the Westshore community, he said.
The focus of the Westshore Campus is on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, with the first building geared toward science and health care careers. The building includes 16 classrooms and conference rooms, five life science labs and four specialized health career labs. Classes are currently being offered toward associate degrees in nursing, medical assisting and emergency medical technology.
The opening of the Westshore Campus means area residents can “live, learn and earn locally” in today’s job market, Thomson said.
“We have degrees and certificates that lead to immediate jobs that lead to family-sustaining wages,” Thomson said. “We also feature high-quality science education for students pursuing their four-year degree.”
The Westshore Campus already serves 2,200 students, Thomson said.
Cuyahoga Community College’s overall president, Jerry Sue Thornton, noted it has been 30 years since the college last opened a new campus – the Eastern Campus.
“It has taken us 30 years to get here,” she joked. But she assured faculty and guests that the two planned Westshore Campus buildings will open soon.
“This truly will become a full-service campus,” Thornton said.
The Clemens Road campus opened with a bang, Thornton said.
“A lot of students were ready for the opening of this campus,” she said, “a campus that is by and for the residents of the Westshore.”
In his remarks, Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough said all associated with the 65,000-square-foot, $24-million-dollar building should be proud.
“It is especially wonderful for the members of Westlake and the surrounding communities to have easy access to a quality and affordable education right here in Westlake,” the mayor said.
Clough also noted that students attending four-year colleges could take a course or two while home during summer break, thus saving their parents some money.
Jennifer Doolittle, a Fairview Park resident and licensed practical nurse, spoke about her goal to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing and become a legal nurse consultant.
“Thanks to Cuyahoga Community College, these goals are affordable and within my reach,” the single mother of four said. “This new campus is so much more convenient for me to attend as a resident of Fairview Park. And we have access to the latest and greatest in technology, which is very important in the field of medicine.”
Tri-C continued its grand opening celebration Saturday afternoon with a free health and wellness fair, which included health screenings and tours of the building.