Despite the California budget fiasco, College of the Canyons is moving forward as planned with the opening of its much anticipated University Center this month, growing academic programs and adding new ones, aggressively finding sources of funding outside the state’s coffers. Although the College is anticipating budget cuts of $7-8 million for the current fiscal year alone, operations at the new $38 million dollar University Center, will largely be shielded by the reductions. Programs at the 110,000 square foot, high technology facility, where seven universities will offer bachelors’ masters and doctoral programs in the same location, will be funded in large part with grants from private foundations as well as from the federal government. “We’re aggressively pursuing grant funds to enable us to do things that can not be funded by the state given the current budget crisis,” said Barry Gribbons Assistant Superintendent and Vice President, Institutional Development, Technology and Online Services. Already, the College has secured a two-year $400,000 grant awarded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and funded through federal stimulus dollars, which will allow the college to launch a new Medical Lab Technician (MLT) program at the University Center. Gribbons and other College of the Canyon leaders gave an update on the College’s progress at a recent meeting of the Valley Industrial Association of Santa Clarita. “Mainly, I think the message is that we can try to anticipate, plan, identify opportunities, and sources of funding outside of state resources, and move forward despite the challenges that are in our way,” said Dena Maloney, Founding Dean of COC’s Canyon Country Campus. Other institutions College of the Canyons is one of three nationwide, and the only one in California, according to Gribbons, to offer students the opportunity to earn advanced degrees through surrounding four-year colleges and universities. Since 2002, College of the Canyons has offered advanced degree programs at the Santa Clarita campus through partnerships with University of La Verne, Chapman University, UCLA Extension, National University, California State University (CSU) Bakersfield and CSU Northridge. The new facility will enable the college to dramatically expand those programs and degree options. In fact CSU Los Angeles will be a new addition this year. Among the new programs to be offered is a bachelor’s degree in nursing through National University, a bachelor’s degree in economics with an emphasis in marketing through CSU Bakersfield, and the Ryan Designated Subjects Adult Education Teaching Credential through UCLA Extension. “Many folks have a great deal of difficulty pursuing their education when they have to travel outside of Santa Clarita because of their work schedules or family commitments, those things make it really hard for them to pursue their degree. Having those programs available here in Santa Clarita is a great help in removing those barriers,” said Gribbons. The programs offered at the University Center are all viable even in tough economic times, said Gribbons, in large part because they don’t depend on state resources. “All our programs at the University Center are operated without state resources so none of them will be affected by the state budget crisis. Even the programs that are operated by California State Universities are operated through their extension programs which means they are not supported by state funds,” he said. While there may be a decrease in the amount of overall giving during tough economic times, there is still a lot of support available for the college through private foundations and federal moneys, Gribbons said. “The Feds are dramatically increasing their grant funding, especially through the stimulus fund, so I think the overall net effect will actually be a slight increase in grant funds for the college,” he said. Getting rent The system is structured so that all the university partners essentially pay rent to COC to offer their programs at that location, said Gribbons. The College will also make its video conferencing rooms at the new facility available to local businesses by the hour for a fee ranging from $15-$20, as an additional source of funding. All the rooms at the new facility are hardwired for the web and are web wireless, which allows video conferencing equipment to be easily moved into any space. “Most of the University Center programs are during the evenings because they are geared towards the working adult so we have a lot of availability during the day. It made sense to open it up to businesses,” he said. College of the Canyon’s growth momentum is not slowing down when it comes to construction either, according to Jim Schrage, Vice President, Facilities Planning, Operations and Construction. “We’ve grown two and a half times in the last 10 years,” he said. “We’re not stopping.” College of the Canyons, a 40-year-old institution, was about 295,000 square feet after its first 30 years. In the last ten years the campus has grown to 655,000 square feet.