Stewarding Resources: Keokuk campus renovations improve student learning, maximize efficiencies

Science and nursing students attending class on the Keokuk campus this fall are in for a treat. They’ll be the first to learn in all new science and nursing labs.

College planners developing a master facilities plan in 2016 targeted the science and health program facilities original to the buildings dating to 1990 to be updated.

“We worked closely with our faculty on what to include in the renovation,” says SCC President Dr. Michael Ash. “Our focus is always on making investments in what our students need to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”

The $800,000 makeover of Emeritus Hall and Bowles Hall includes updated science labs and patient simulation lab, and new classroom amenities. One building will also get an exterior facelift.

“Bowles Hall, which faces Messenger Road, used to house our maintenance and service areas,” says Dr. Ash. “While it was a practical use of the space, it wasn’t a good first impression for visitors or passers-by.”

Plans call for relocating utility boxes and trash facilities, retrofitting garage doors with windows, removing a parking area, and installing a decorative metal façade.

Demolition began in earnest one day after final exams.

“We’re on a tight timeline and every minute counts,” says Campus Director Kari Bevans. “The builders have three months to tear everything out and put it all back together before students return in August.”

Part of SCC’s Building the Dream campus expansion initiative, the renovation closes out over three years of new construction and upgrade projects across SCC’s two campuses.

“We have some of the best faculty in the state who have always worked wonders with limited resources,” Dr. Ash says. “Now with these new facilities and equipment, they’ll have the tools to offer even better instruction. That adds up to a better learning experience for our students.”

The new facilities will also be much cheaper to operate.

In addition to the building renovations, the college is nearing completion of its second solar power project. A partnership with Mohrfeld Electric of Fort Madison, the installation is spread across 2 acres as part of a lease agreement with Keokuk Catholic School. The 1180 solar panels will generate 545 KW of electricity annually meeting nearly 95% of the power needs for the campus.

The partnership agreement covers construction, installation, maintenance for the next 15 years, and installation of all new high efficiency LED lighting across campus.

“Neither school put any money into this project,” says Dr. Ash.

Financial projections show a first year savings of just over $10,000, with cumulative savings ramping up significantly to $1.6 million over the next 25 years.

The solar project also includes an educational component. Students will be able to monitor the facility to get experience with renewable energy systems. “Spending less on electricity frees up dollars we can use on other important student services and programming,” explains Dr. Ash. “It’s a win, win, win.”

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