January 16, 2008 > Update on Ohlone College
Update on Ohlone College
The past twelve months have been filled with significant developments at Ohlone College. A new campus is about to open in Newark and a new president will be selected in the near future. Frontage property of the Fremont campus has been proposed at various times as land for sale or lease for commercial and residential purposes. Recently, Ohlone's Board of Trustees declined an offer for a long term lease and revisited the concept at its meeting on January 9. Changes also have altered the composition of the board. TCV spoke with Board President Garrett Yee about the current state of the college.
TCV: What is the current status of the frontage property?
Yee: At the board meeting on January 9, we used some of our time as a workshop to discuss what has transpired, our present position and future options. Frontage development is still under study at this time. We have been working on this since I came on the board and Floyd Hogue was president. Now, [President] Doug Treadway will soon be leaving and we are still trying to decide on the best course of action.
TCV: Any other pressing developments?
Yee: It will be an exciting year since the new Newark campus will be opening and the Student Center is under construction. This is at the same time that we expect state level funding will drop. We anticipate that the next year will be a tough financial year. This is typical every four or five years and means that we will have to tighten up and make sure we don't sacrifice our core mission of education.
TCV: Will the new Newark campus help enrollment and Ohlone College in general?
Yee: From a practical standpoint, there will be less competition for parking on the Fremont campus. Also, since the Newark campus will have some services previously only available at our Fremont campus, some of the pressure for library and student services will ease. The location of the Newark campus will attract students who otherwise, due to ease of access, might look elsewhere or are studying in a health curriculum offered at the new campus.
TCV: Has Ohlone College moved forward with an agreement with a minor league baseball club?
Yee: There is nothing new on this yet. The six month letter of intent is about a month old but we have just gone through the holiday season so not much has been done. The pace will pick up. There is interest on both sides and we are currently doing our due diligence. Each member of the board will have to decide if this agreement is feasible. Any upgrade of the baseball field in Fremont is contingent upon our decision about a stadium in Newark. We have put some money into upgrading the existing field on the Fremont campus in the meantime, but it still needs additional work which is contingent on our decision regarding the Newark facility.
We are also currently exploring a structure parking option on the Fremont campus. Parking is the number one concern of students year after year. If we were a four year school there would probably be more energy from students about a remedy. When you have a situation where people come and go, many who are most interested leave for other schools after a few years and the process slows.
TCV: With a continuing structural deficit, does the board have any plans to maintain the Fremont campus now and future requirements of the Newark campus?
Yee: There are no easy answers to this but that is the job of the board and administration. Schools are funded for a certain amount of educational structure but not so much for maintenance. This is a problem throughout the whole community college system which is why it makes sense to build sustainable facilities such as we are doing in Newark. This may cost a bit more up front but will be more durable without as much replacement cost.
TCV: Since Dr. Treadway has announced his retirement this year, when will a decision be made on his replacement?
Yee: In December, we began our search and that process is moving forward. We should have a short list of candidates by March and are hoping that by May there will be an announcement of the new president of the college.