by SARA MARSHALL//Editor-in-Chief
Just in time for the Fall 2017 semester, South Plains College will be opening a new campus for college and dual-credit students seeking technical and workforce careers and certificates.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for South Plains College,” said Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of the college. “We feel like it’s going to really reach out and meet the needs of an expanded number of students in the Lubbock area.”
In 2015, SPC purchased the Shamrock Chevrolet automotive dealership on Avenue Q with hopes of converting the building into a new, stand-alone campus. The Lubbock Center has more than 77,000 square feet of instructional space, with eight high-tech computer classrooms with Internet access and 10 instructional classrooms with multimedia capabilities.
The Lubbock Center will house a millwork lab, metals lab, welding lab, automotive technology lab and construction trades lab. The construction trades lab will also function as a rapid response training lab.
“There will also be admissions, financial aid, advising and testing, tutoring and business services,” said Dr. Satterwhite. “These will help support the overall needs of a student, including registering for classes, taking classes and paying for classes. All the things you would need to do, you can do right there at the new SPC Lubbock Center.”
For the past 20 years, SPC, Lubbock ISD and other community partners worked together at the Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to teach cooperative technical education programs. This cooperation has led to the expansion of the program and the shift to the Lubbock Center.
“We’re vacating the space we have at the Byron Martin Center,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “That’s owned by Lubbock ISD, and we’re going to be freeing up space for them. It’s a very positive separation. They needed more space, and it’s an opportunity for SPC to have a stand-alone facility where we have more of a presence in Lubbock. It’s been a great relationship with Lubbock ISD, and even during the departure it continues to be a very positive relationship.”
Most faculty and staff at the Lubbock Center will be comprised of preexisting employees from the Byron Martin ATC, who will be permanently moving to the Lubbock Center, along with student support staff from the Reese Center campus will be helping support the center.
Many of the programs once offered at the Byron Martin ATC in Lubbock will be offered at the Lubbock Center beginning in Fall 2017. Registration for fall classes began April 19.
“It’s going to be very heavily focused around the technical education,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “While we are going to offer some transfer education within the facility, it’s going to be limited.”
In recent years, Culinary Arts has become a very high-demand field of education and occupation. SPC has recognized this demand and is including this new program at the Lubbock Center beginning Fall 2017.
“We’re very excited about the new addition of a Culinary Arts center,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “The growing number of restaurants, particularly in the Lubbock area, is just phenomenal. The Lubbock Restaurant and Hotel groups have reached out to all the educational facilities, and they are in desperate need of kitchen workers, cooks, managers.”
This new culinary program will provide students with a deeper understanding for the culinary arts than what would be learned through on-the-job training.
“Talented employees are moving from restaurant to restaurant, and the restaurants have a difficult time filling those positions,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “The Lubbock schools are also developing their own culinary programs, which are not in competition to our own program. Really, they’re in compliment of our program, because they are only going to take a student up to a certain level of proficiency, and that’s when our program will take over.”
Construction and renovations on the Lubbock Center began roughly a year ago, led by the McCutchin Construction Company based in Levelland.
“They have done a remarkable job of keeping us on time and on schedule,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “They’ve enabled the project to move really smoothly. There have been very few surprises during the process, and I attribute that largely to their work.”
Dr. Satterwhite said he does not believe that the Lubbock Center will pull away existing students from the Reese Center, also located in Lubbock.
“[The Lubbock Center] is really going to take those students at the Byron Martin Center and shift them over,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “So I feel like it’s going to meet our existing needs we have in Lubbock and some growing needs with the dual-credit students. I think we’re going to have a growing population of students who want to identify a career opportunity in one of these areas.”
[Photo by RILEY GOLDEN/PLAINSMAN PRESS]