HOUSTON – Houston Community College (HCC) joined forces with the North Forest Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee and U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of the 18th Congressional District to host a community engagement meeting and present an updated plan for the North Forest Campus bond project. After several meetings with HCC administrators and the community to ensure the facility would meet the career programming needs based on the available budget, a new design was presented for the community’s input.
The Honorable Congresswoman Jackson Lee opened the meeting by thanking HCC administrators and trustees, the advisory committee, and community for their commitment to bringing educational opportunities to North Forest. She led a moment of silence to honor the memory of Lois Edwards, trustee for the North Forest Independent School District, who passed away in February. Jackson Lee acknowledged Edwards for all of her years of hard work on the project.
“The day she passed she was working on this project,” said daughter and HCC graduate Millicent Edwards. “She knew what HCC could do to transform a community and we know that it can happen here. So thanks to those who have worked to make it what it will be.”
The presentation detailed the new construction at the North Forest Campus that will include an additional 20,691 square-foot Academic Building and a new 35,000 square foot Automotive Technology Building. An existing building at the campus will also be renovated to provide an additional 25,615 square foot workforce training facility with dedicated labs for welding, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing trades. When complete, the campus will provide over 97,000 square feet of classrooms, labs, shops, and student support services.
The community also received information about pathways to obtaining workforce certificates and degrees that will be offered at the campus, and was introduced to the concept of a student Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) collaboration space that will be housed in the academic building.
“This is really a cause for celebration,” said Cesar Maldonado, Ph.D., P.E., HCC chancellor. “Education is the pathway to success and we are committed to doing the right thing. We are talking about education that is truly pacesetting, and that is what we are going to bring to this part of Houston.”
Chancellor Maldonado further explained that training in the programs offered at the campus would provide a background that will take students anywhere they want to go, whether it is in transportation, energy, business, or a variety of career fields.
HCC Northeast President Margaret Ford Fisher, Ed.D. discussed the process utilized to identify educational programs for the North Forest Campus.
“It was thorough, inclusive, and engaged numerous stakeholders – including the former Independent School District workgroups, civic and community groups, business and industry leaders as well as HCC stakeholders who reviewed the labor market data and community demographic information to arrive at a proposed list of programs for the new North Forest Campus,” she said. “Prior to submitting the proposal to the HCC District office for final review, the process involved a detailed analysis of requests to weigh recommendations against inarguable labor market information and workforce demands.”
Focus groups and community meetings were convened throughout the North Forest community and the Northeast College to discuss the data and to arrive at consensus on the programmatic offerings. The final list of programs, was approved by the stakeholders, and submitted to the HCC District Office of the Vice Chancellor of Instructional Services and Chief Academic Officer for further vetting and the HCC Board of Trustees granted final approval of the programs.
During the community engagement meeting, attendees welcomed the updated plans and expressed their desire to move forward with the project to avoid further delays. Advisory committee members shared their concerns about the final campus aesthetics and requested the college make every effort to blend the renovated buildings with the new construction to create a futuristic look that is similar to other HCC facilities.
“HCC knows how to design a building, they know how to make a building look outstanding for the community. Let’s make something great happen, then move to the next great thing,” said Ivory Mayhorn, advisory member and president of Super Neighborhood #48.
The construction project will also add 275 new parking spaces, along with pedestrian pathways and landscaped plazas to foster student interaction on the campus. The projected completion date is Summer 2017. The current facility offers academic and workforce courses, GED, student support services and a variety of campus activities.
The North Forest Campus is envisioned to become an educational beacon of excellence in academics and workforce training. The North Forest Campus is located at 6010 E. Little York Road. To learn more about the project, visit hccs.edu/bond.