ground breaking

Photo by Emilee Wentland

Anoka-Ramsey Community College staff and supporters ceremonially broke ground on the nursing and business building renovations May 26. From left: ARCC Facilities Director Ken Karr, ARCC business instructor Susan Eyre, ARCC Vice President of Administration and Finance Don Lewis, Sen. Jerry Newton, ARCC President Kent Hanson, Rep. Zack Stephenson, Minnesota State Vice President Bill Maki, ARCC Dean of Nursing Sandra Kohler, Leo A Daly Senior Architect Adam Luckhardt and ARCC interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Steven Crittenden.

by Emilee Wentland

APG of East Central Minnesota

Anoka-Ramsey Community College is getting an upgraded nursing and business building for its Coon Rapids campus. The college broke ground on the project May 26 and is expected to complete it next summer.

Currently the building lacks group learning areas, energy efficiency and any sort of modern design, ARCC Vice President Don Lewis said.

“This is an important asset for the college as we prepare for the learning of tomorrow,” Lewis said.

The $16.3 million renovation project has seen six pre-designs since 2010. The project will be constructed by Leo A Daly and is funded through state bonding.

The college’s nursing program is the second largest in the state, according to the college website.

The new learning facility emphasizes simulation, or SIM, labs for nursing students; provides group learning areas that will help business students collaborate on team projects; and increases energy efficiency.

The updated learning areas and teaching space will reflect what students and staff need to be successful at the community college, Bill Maki, vice chancellor of Minnesota State, said. He’s seen “undying” support from students, staff and area lawmakers as the project has undergone design after design.

Students were a big factor in helping design the new facility, Dean of Nursing Sandra Kohler said.

“This is indeed a special day for students,” Kohler said.

Classes were challenging because the current space is outdated, she said, but her students are dedicated to their studies.

“They’ve survived years of a building that didn’t meet their needs,” Kohler said.

Susan Eyre, an ARCC business instructor, is glad to see the update as well.

“The process to get to this point is nothing short of amazing,” Eyre said.

State Sen. Jerry Newton, DFL-Coon Rapids, and Rep. Zack Stephenson, DFL-Coon Rapids, backed the project.

Stephenson grew up a mile down the road from ARCC, so he’s thought of the school as part of his community his entire life.

“There’s an opportunity here to do some special things,” he said.

ARCC President Kent Hanson said the project may be a bit disruptive in the year ahead, but in the end it will all be worth it. Many classes will continue to meet online to accommodate the renovations.

He said ensuring the business and nursing programs are technology-driven is essential.

“It’s such an important aspect,” he said.

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