Olympic College Poulsbo – An update

Guest opinion by Olympic College Interim President Dr. Diana Van Der Ploeg

Olympic College knows how it feels to have a Feb. 29 birthday. Ever since the Olympic College Poulsbo campus project was born, years have spanned important dates such as birthdays, much like a Leap Year Child.

The celebrations we have marked (capital funding, deed release, property blessing, etc.), while significant, have been few and far between and for almost a decade.

This year marks the end of delays and, we trust, the beginning of accomplishment. While not a leap year, Olympic College is finally moving ahead with a bid schedule that will shape the structure and services of Olympic College Poulsbo.

The recent agreement between the City of Poulsbo and Olhava Associates helped to assure that the infrastructure will be in place to the campus property: water, power, access roads, and all the other amenities needed before a contract can be awarded for site preparation and construction. The construction bid process is expected to begin (May 14) on the initial 38,000 square-foot, multi-use building. With favorable bids we expect construction to begin in early summer. Typically, students could expect to be taking classes at the new branch campus by winter quarter 2004.

In 1993-94, Olympic College sought community ideas via a survey, focus groups and steering committee. We wanted to know how community people thought the new campus should look, what kinds of programs might best suit the needs of North Kitsap residents and what features would best set Olympic College Poulsbo for future growth for the success of students. These suggestions became the guide posts for the architects Miller-Hull of Seattle. A multi-function building was designed with a distinctive Northwest flair. It will be equipped to handle the latest in technology and distance learning options.

Just exactly what core classes, professional-technical programs, and continuing education or non-credit opportunities may be scheduled at Olympic College Poulsbo is undecided at this time. What kind of staff support is necessary or who (and in what positions) is also undecided until we can make projections based on new data and compare these to the College’s strategic plan. We do know that Olympic College Poulsbo will not begin as a full-service, comprehensive campus.

We are grateful for the unfailing support Olympic College has received from so many people over the years. Some terrific ideas emerged that helped Olympic College offer both credit and non-credit classes in the North Kitsap area ahead of the branch campus construction. We are pleased students have been able to take advantage of programs and services that are available today from Olympic College Poulsbo— currently a campus without walls, all based at various North Kitsap locations. So, once we break ground for construction, we hope a new task force will help us review the vision, validate existing information on enrollment trends and community needs, and explore new ideas as well.

Such ideas may include moving the Workforce Education (or other programs and services) into the building first. The decision to lease space until enrollments grow will depend on the budget analysis among other factors. As the Olympic College Poulsbo branch campus construction process moves forward, we will continue to ask community people for their ideas. We will keep you informed and involved.

If Olympic College could have changed its birthday, this would have been great. Like a kid, we’d love to have a celebration every day. Yet, as seasoned campus builders, we know the detours and extra time spent may have been useful IF it helps us serve the North Kitsap/Bainbridge Island communities better.

So, at long last, when the doors open on this new chapter in Olympic College’s educational service, we will welcome each and every one of you to experience what a quality community college can be. As the new kid on the block in the City of Poulsbo, we are excited about our long-awaited birthday celebration, and when the time arrives, you are invited.