Tile and carpet still need to be laid, and furniture needs to be moved into the addition and renovated portion of Watertown’s Madison College campus, but officials hope the site’s rough look won’t keep students away.
Construction should be finished in a week, with furniture arriving Wednesday through Aug. 17, said Lynn Forseth, executive director of economic and workforce development at the Watertown and Fort Atkinson campuses.
Funds for the 10,000-square-foot addition and 3,855-square-foot renovation came from a $134 million November 2010 referendum sought by Madison College for facilities improvements.
The addition to the Watertown site includes two science labs, two community rooms, a student achievement center, two active learning classrooms and a regular classroom, Forseth said. Portions of the existing structure were renovated to create centralized office space for advising, more library space and updated restrooms.
With enrollment numbers and wait lists growing, college officials realized they needed to expand if they wanted to serve students in the best way possible.
The Watertown campus has consistently enrolled large numbers of students in medical and health-related programs, such as the associate degree nursing program. With those numbers swelling in recent years due to the economy, classes in need of science labs used those at Watertown High School after the school day ended.
While Forseth said the college appreciated and valued its partnership with the high school, not having its own facilities had drawbacks. Classes could only be held at night and the college’s students couldn’t spend time beyond the class practicing with equipment.
Kristi Papcke-Benson, nursing instructor at the Watertown campus, said having science labs in the building will be a benefit to her students.
“We’re just very excited in the nursing program to have such a great addition to the campus,” Papcke-Benson said. “We’re going to have more interactive classrooms for our students. We want to incorporate more simulation in our classes, we have a simulator, and we’re also going to be purchasing a 3G simulator that can be moved into the classroom.”
The science rooms won’t be complete in time for the start of the school year, but will be finished about mid-semester, Forseth said. Having their own science rooms will also allow the college to expand its course offering into physics and chemistry, which would cater to industries already in Watertown, such as manufacturing.
The addition includes two active learning classrooms, which will be arranged so students sit in five groups of six, with each table facing a flat screen television on the wall. Students can connect their laptops to the television to work on projects or to project information during a presentation to the class, Forseth said.
The student achievement center will give students a place to study between classes. Tutors and instructors will be available to meet with students in the space. Creating the student achievement center was a step to better serve the college’s commuter students, who may not have enough time to drive home and back between classes, Forseth said.
The community rooms will be available for use by the general public, and can be used as one large room or two smaller ones. The community rooms are already set to host a job fair for veterans.
“We love to ... host the community and have them come and see our facilities and what we have to offer,” Forseth said. “We want people to make use of this space and offer continuing education opportunities for all kinds of organizations.”
Classes still have room for more students, and anyone interested has a limited amount of time left to enroll for the fall, Forseth said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expanded campus will take place on Nov. 14.