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Roseville, Sierra College progressing with university center to open fall 2015

Herman wants to see education move downtown
By: Jorden P. Hales,
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Sierra College and the City of Roseville are moving forward with plans for a university center in the community.

Councilman Tim Herman, vice chair of the city’s higher education task force – which was formed in 2011 – recently attended a meeting with representatives from Sierra College to discuss details of the project.

“It’s one of the goals for the city to try to get a building built that could house the university center in Downtown Roseville,” Herman said of the prospective university center. “Each university would house different programs, with the idea of increasing higher education access to higher education for Roseville residents and resident of south Placer County.”

Near its inception, the task force identified a need to place special attention on this project and made steady progress. Sierra College, California State University at Sacramento and University of the Pacific have each signed a memorandum of understanding and plan to be have programs available at the university center when it opens in just over a year.

The university center’s location has not yet been determined. Sierra College’s Roseville Gateway Center has been identified as a possibility; however, the college’s lease at Rocklin Rd. building is set to expire in June of 2015, roughly two months before university center plans to begin its operations.

“When we first started this process, we said ‘we’ve got space there (at the Gateway Center) if universities were interested,’ but because nothing is up and running yet, what we’ve talked about is universities starting in a new space with us” said Willy Duncan, superintendent president for Sierra Community College District. “It’s always possible that if somebody wanted to offer something earlier, maybe a spring offering or something, that it could happen in the Gateway Center. We’d be more than happy to accommodate that, but as of now the plan is for it to be in a different location.”

The city is also under the belief that Sierra College will be moving out of the gateway center, but remains confident that the institution will secure an adequate facility in time to proceed. 

“I think Sierra College will be moving out of the Gateway Center. Initially it will probably be wherever Sierra College has space, because Sierra College is going to act as kind of a feeder to all of these universities and different programs,” said Herman. “Long term, it’s my vision to have it downtown in a building so that it helps bring people to downtown and all the amenities that we’re trying to provide for our residents (there).”

Duncan tells the Press-Tribune that the location is still very much in the air, but the college is aware of the city’s plan to place the university center downtown.

“The city is working on a Downtown redevelopment project and I think this would fit nicely with the rest of that project. We’re opened that idea and interested in that idea,” Duncan said.

With the location to be determined, parties involved are proceeding with operational details of the university center.

The facility will be requiring both full-time and part-time staff from each institution involved. The universities will offer comparable programs at the facility.

Education, Criminal Justice, Psychology, engineering, math and pre-pharmacy have been identified as probable fields of study available to students, with the possibility of others being added if further demand is identified.

“All the participants have agreed to invest some money to hire a project manager to get it up and running so that we can really have something going by the fall semester of 2015,” Herman said.

The final agreement is likely to resemble a public-private partnership, but specific financial arrangements have not been formally agreed upon.

“It remains to be seen at what level the city will (invest) Herman said. “The city can’t support or put down a building and give it away, but potentially we could be a landlord and rent space to the universities, (or) we could rent space to Sierra College and they’d sublease it to the universities. There’s lots of different ways that could happen.”