By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
EL RENO – Redlands Community College has completed the first step in a multi-phase upgrade to modernize the look of the campus.
Redlands’ administrators and board members joined community leaders on Aug. 11 to celebrate the reopening of the Ray Porter Academic Complex – the main building at the college, 1300 S Country Club Road.
The $870,000 first phase of the campus renovation began in September 2019.
The project involved extending the vestibules on the east entrances, replacing the fascia, installing new sidewalks and landscaping, erecting free-standing, metal lettering spelling “Redlands,” and a large metal model of the college’s logo on the front of the building that is lit up at night.
The remodel modernized the look of the main campus building, which was built in the early 1970s.
“Behind these 1970s walls, our instructors and staff have been providing a high-quality education and personal service,” Redlands’ President Jack Bryant said. “This remodel brings a modern look and a re-energized atmosphere to our campus.
“Not only are we excited about the new look that will greet visitors entering our main campus, but we are very pleased to be able to complete the renovation without borrowing any funds.”
The college has not increased tuition in three years and adhered to a budget that funded the $870,000 renovation. Project contractor was W.L. McNatt & Company.
The renovated entrances provide a more comfortable atmosphere for students with seating and protection from the elements, and the new sidewalks offer easier access to both entrances.
The Aug. 11 grand reopening celebration featured a ribbon cutting ceremony. Assisting were:
Redlands Board of Regents members Jim Kitch, Dr. Juanita Krittenbrink, Dr. David Von Tungeln, and Lynda McColl, former board chair Dr. Kent Carder, El Reno Mayor Matt White, and Matthew Radcliffe of Mass Architects, Inc.
Also attending were El Reno Chamber Director Karen Nance, Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader, State Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader (R-Surrey Hills), El Reno Public Schools’ Superintendent Craig McVay, Dr. Jay Watson with Canadian Valley Technology Center, Redlands’ alumni and employees, and many citizens.
“I am pleased to see how far they have progressed in just a few short years,” said Rep. Crosswhite Hader, House District 41. “It clearly was the work of a good team and supporting community.”
FALL SEMESTER UNDERWAY
Redlands’ president, administrators and other personnel are welcoming back students this week for the start of the fall semester.
“It has been a challenging spring and summer, but we have an excellent team of faculty and staff and resilient students,” Bryant said. “They have all risen to these challenges, and we’re looking forward to working with our students on campus and continuing to provide a
wide variety of online class and degree options.”
While enrollment across the state is down, Redlands has seen a significant increase over the past few weeks.
The college’s student enrollment is at nearly 1,700 for the fall semester, only slightly lower than at the same time in 2019.
As students return to campus, Redlands has implemented COVID safety protocols for the 2020-21 school year.
“To support physical distancing efforts, we have limited class sizes or moved larger classes to bigger classrooms,” said Dayna Rowe, executive director of external affairs.
The Redlands’ science department is implementing a hybrid format that will involve live and online labs.
Face masks are required on campus, and there are hand sanitizer stations and cleaning products placed throughout the campus.
All the college’s classrooms and common areas will be sanitized each afternoon and evening.
Redlands’ HVAC system contains a top-of-the-line filtration system to provide quality air circulation.
College officials are well pleased to have students back on campus.
“Many students are more successful in a classroom environment, so we look forward to providing this type of instruction while implementing safety protocols,” Rowe said. “We understand how quickly the situation can change, and we are prepared for that.
“But as long as everyone works together, adhering to the face-covering requirement and assisting with sanitation and physical distancing efforts, we will be able to continue helping our students stay on their path to reach their educational goals.”
Shifting to all online classes last spring was unexpected but not difficult for Redlands’ faculty due to specialized online teaching training they have completed.
“So, if it becomes necessary again, we anticipate a smooth transition,” Rowe said.