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RCC nets $20.7M for facility renovations

Jin-ah Kim | 8/27/2008, 5:23 a.m.

Roxbury Community College (RCC) plans to use $20.7 million from the state’s recently approved higher education bond bill to make significant improvements to its facilities.

In all, the bill sets aside $2.2 billion for infrastructure renovation and replacements at campuses across the state over the next 10 years.

“This administration is committed to providing our students the highest quality public education possible so that they are prepared to compete with their peers across the country and throughout the world,” Gov. Deval Patrick said when he filed the bill last October.

“If we ask our students to put forth their best effort to succeed, then we must be willing to invest in the tools to help them — their laboratories, their classrooms and their libraries.”

By signing the bill, Patrick more than tripled the $618 million allocated in the state’s last 10-year higher education bond, enacted in 1995.

Of the $2.2 billion set aside by the latest bill, the University of Massachusetts system will receive up to $1 billion, with the remaining $1.2 billion divided among the Commonwealth’s two-dozen state and community colleges.

RCC’s Stephanie C. Janey applauded the Patrick administration’s “very aggressive and very far-reaching” investment.

“The governor is saying how important public high education system is in the state,” said Janey, the community college’s vice president of enrollment management and student affairs. “It’s supporting that in a very good way by authorizing this bill.”

Janey said the new funding will be used for major renovation projects at the college, including the modernization of existing classroom space and improvements to RCC’s main academic and media arts buildings. The Media Arts Building houses resources for students enrolled in the college’s television journalism, visual arts and humanities courses, provides RCC’s community outreach programs and serves as the home for the Roxbury Repertory Theatre.

Beginning work on the improvements may take some time, however. Janey was quick to point out that the approval of the bond bill does not mean cash in hand.

“We don’t know when we are getting the money,” Janey said. “It’s a bond bill; it means that [the state] needs to sell bonds to distribute the money.”

Once the bonds are sold and the funds allocated, though, Janey said RCC’s plans include making its campus laboratory and classroom space more flexible and better able to meet the expanding programmatic needs of students and faculty in its allied health and biotechnology programs.

“The bond bill provides RCC with the renovation and modernization funds needed to … meet the academic and quality-of-life demands of a growing college,” Janey said in a statement announcing the allocation. “The funds also help RCC in its ongoing mission of being a vital resource to the greater Roxbury community.”