March 20, 2007 > An Ohlone College Update
An Ohlone College Update
Change is the operative word at Ohlone College. A new student services center is under construction on the Fremont campus, the composition of the Board of Trustees is changing and the Newark campus continues to evolve. TCV recently spoke with President Douglas Treadway about these and other projects.
TCV: Do you see a philosophical change of the Board of Trustees? Garrett Yee has returned to regular attendance, newly elected member Richard Watters has been seated and now Dan Archer has retired.
Treadway: There is no question that there is change. On any elected body, when each representative has an equal voice, it will depend on their interest and what agenda they bring with them. The change may not be major, but it will be a change. The board, in making an appointment [to fill the seat vacated by Dan Archer] will be cognizant of the fact that they are bringing in another player. Hopefully, the new member will embrace a general set of attitudes and values in keeping with Ohlone's culture and how the college works; for example, shared governance. Another example of some change is the proactive stance taken by Garrett Yee at the last board meeting on making decisions about the frontage property.
TCV: What is happening to the frontage property?
Treadway: No changes, but I hope there is some movement toward decision-making. The process will be studied at a workshop on April 4th to give the administration direction on how to proceed. Specifically, do we negotiate with a single firm as we did previously with Sobrato - that negotiation has fallen by the wayside - by working with the party that was next in line or do we bypass that step entirely and just put things out to bid and sign a contract with the best bidder? A third alternative is whether we want to be our own developer. One of our board members suggested that we contact Washington Hospital to see how they were able to remain as owners and managers of their property, hiring a developer as their agent. There are pros and cons to each of these approaches.
TCV: What will be developed on the frontage property?
Treadway: The current thinking is roughly one third retail and two thirds housing. The kinds of housing we want are middle to upper income apartments and active adult housing. We do not want to bring add a burden to the Fremont Unified School District. The intent is to create an adult environment conducive to a college campus.
TCV: Should the development provide housing for students or faculty?
Treadway: What needs to be kept in focus is that we are doing this because we need funds to rehabilitate our buildings; to create revenue. If there is synergy with such objectives that will derive good revenue, that is great. But, we have "surplused" the property meaning it is not necessary for college use. During the discussions, I hope the board will listen to what the staff and students believe is needed, not simply impose their own ideas. Student housing is not necessarily low cost housing since any bond to build it would need to be serviced. DeVry and CSUEB are both experiencing vacancy rates that attest to this dilemma. The frontage property is being developed to create revenue, not simply break even.
TCV: What will happen to the current athletic fields?
Treadway: The athletic fields are involved for two reasons. The first is they are in poor condition. We have to do something with them but do not have funds in the $8 million range for safe and proper facilities. The second issue is the only source of revenue is to surplus land and if that land is where we have a playing field such as the soccer field, we use other land for a new soccer field. But if that land happens to be where we have parking, new parking lots must be created. The baseball field is nice but it is in the middle of campus which is ideal for parking. The whole development has a domino effect and becomes complicated.
TCV: At one time, there was talk of a baseball stadium at the Newark site and participation by a minor league team. Is that still viable?
Treadway: That is in active discussion. There was a move to sell land (parcel C) on the hillside but it was vetoed by some board members. Those against the sale said that if we could do a land exchange with the Agilent land next to the Newark site and realize cash as well for a baseball field, they would go along. It took a year to do this, but I did put it together yet there is still opposition. It would be nice if we could go ahead with this.
TCV: Is construction of the Newark campus on schedule?
Treadway: Yes. Each month the building becomes more substantial and those we take to look at it become more enthusiastic. The capital campaign has been showing results as visitors can see something taking place. We will be the first campus, as far as we know, in which all aspects - ground, air systems, buildings and furniture - follow sustainability guidelines. Ohlone College has applied for a grant from stopwaste.org,, with their encouragement, for native landscaping. Steelcase has expressed some interest in making our campus a showcase for their products. Kaiser Hospitals has spoken of a model program for nursing training. There are many possibilities. This is an affirmation that we are on the right track. We have a $2.5 million challenge grant from the Valley Foundation so all contributions to our capital campaign up to that level will be matched.
There are many exciting possibilities for our new campus. CSU East Bay has been talking with us about new curriculum being developed for environmental studies and technologies. They want to be a part of our programs and may participate by even constructing a building on campus. Waste Management, one of the largest in the nation, has been out to see our campus. They will be closing the local landfill soon and generating energy from the gases within it. An alliance of manufacturers, Silicon Solar, is talking about curriculum and training for their manufacturing partners and PG&E is exploring the use of our campus as a contracted service center for their technicians. Things are moving quickly. We are adding new faculty positions; people know that we are very serious about this campus.
TCV: What will the focus be at the Newark campus?
Treadway: Health sciences, environmental sciences and probably industrial technologies including advanced manufacturing technology, solar manufacturing and waste management. While the Fremont campus is directed toward liberal arts, Newark will focus on a triangle of knowledge professions that have to do with health, environment and industrial science in a "green" environment.
TCV: How is the partnership with Alliant International University working out?
Teadway: It has far more impact than I anticipated. People are working and acting differently due to this program which is based on applied theory - making changes. Every course has an associated applied project. The twelve people involved in the program, although very different, have formed a cohort that has become a force for change in our institution and have added another "intellectual factor" to Ohlone College.