Bakersfield College opened its Panorama Campus almost 65 years ago. In order to allow the campus to be of an appropriate age, the college asked voters to approve Measure J in 2016 to do everything from small changes that make buildings more accessible, to major infrastructure changes, to demolitions around the campus.
Those who have not been on campus in a while – perhaps because they have taken classes online – can spot the first signs of a facelift for Measure J on the edge of campus in the new signage and greet them on campus. But that’s just a start.
Kern County voters approved Action J for $ 502.8 million, and BC received $ 415 million for various improvement and construction projects across campus. The college took advantage of the 30 year bond to build on an accelerated timeline.
Construction was underway long before the pandemic, but the coronavirus did not have much of an impact on construction, according to Mike Giacomini, vice president of finance and administrative services. There might be a supplier or manufacturer problem, but then again, he adds, it was kind of nice not to worry about jackhammers disrupting classes this year.
A series of buildings that are nearing completion is the Campus Center. One is a multi-story student center with a conference room with 450 seats. The smaller restaurant with a fireplace room was renovated and modernized to increase capacity rather than demolishing it as it had historical value for the campus.
The couple are part of a larger plan to focus all student services on one section of campus so students don’t have to wander everywhere to find what they need. The current bookstore and corporate services will later house the college safety, health center, marketing, human resources, institutional research, and finance and administrative services.
“Student services will all be grouped into one area,” said Giacomini.
The new three-story science and technology building has literally been put into operation. Although there will be some faculty rooms, most of it will be a room for students to do lab work and attend lectures. Giacomini said the college has long waiting lists for those classes that are not acceptable.
“Really, it’s a space dedicated to student learning,” he said.
Memorial Stadium, the most historic location on campus, is well on the way to modernizing. It has new artificial turf, a new PA system and a scoreboard. The concession stands have been revised and made more accessible through lower windows. The last phase is an overhaul of the press box.
Construction of the nearby Gym & Field House has not yet started, but space has been cleared for the new gym, office space, classroom, weight room, field house, locker rooms, exercise rooms and fitness center.
There are all sorts of less visible but crucial infrastructure changes going on across campus. One of these was especially important for students sitting in the free parking lot, doing homework, or attending classes in their cars: WiFi.