Enrollment at Hillsborough Community College SouthShore Campus
has far exceeded expectations since opening day in 2008 in Ruskin.
More than 6,500 students attend classes on a campus built on a 100-year-old tomato field donated by the Dickman family. That is a 7 percent increase over the previous year.
More than a year and a half ago, 15 portable classrooms were set up to handle the overflow. That is about to change. School officials are breaking ground at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on a two-story, 36,424-square-foot Science and Technology Building at 551 24th St. in Ruskin.
"It has been truly amazing," says HCC SouthShore's President Allen Witt. “The new building will allow for the space to move out of portables and continue growth.”
The college is looking to hire for part-time and advisory positions. Interviews are planned to hire four faculty members. "We're in a hiring mode,'' Witt says.
Construction is scheduled for completion in May 2015. The new science and technology center will have nine laboratories, five prep labs, two computer classrooms, six traditional classrooms, four offices and a dean's suite.
Student enrollment, at least for now, is not expected to slow. Currently, SouthShore's enrollment is about 10 percent of approximately 46,000 students who attend HCC's five campuses and three centers throughout the county.
Witt can look out of his office window to understand the reason.
"I can see the top of Amazon.com's (building) just above the trees," he says. Also nearby new houses are under construction.
Amazon is expected to hire about 1,000 people in the next few months. The rising rooftops also will bring more families to the southeastern end of the county. "Things are happening here so very fast," Witt says. "We're all going to be catching up with infrastructure related to the new needs."
SouthShore plans to hold onto to all but about one-third of its portables as back-up plan if they are still needed in future years.
But the opening of the science and technology building means SouthShore is taking the next step in its academic growth plan.
“We pride ourselves as a STEM campus serving our local community with outstanding educational resources," Witt says. "This new science building will help us serve our students well into the future with the best technology and classroom space.”
Existing buildings at SouthShore are LEED-certified as eco-friendly and green. This new building also will meet the national certification standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Construction on the approximately $9.8 million project includes architects Reynolds Smith and Hills
, civil engineer Stantec
, consultants with Volt Air
and construction manager Cutler Associates
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Allen Witt, HCC Southshore