BC building is one-stop center

Published 10:41 am Friday, March 23, 2012

BAINBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR Jordan Friend is getting some advice from Bainbridge College Student Services Representative Rhonda Harter, with her back to the camera, on steps necessary for enrolling in BC. Behind Friend is BC student Christy Welch, who was returning some necessary paperwork.

By CAROL HEARD

BC Communications Specialist

A renovated building located on the Bainbridge College campus isn’t just about the newness of the building – it’s about a complete change in how the college serves its students.

In essence, the renovated building that used to be the student services center will now be the one-stop student center. But more importantly, the one-stop center will be staffed by retrained and cross-trained BC employees.

“It’s not just a facility renovation,” said Bainbridge College President Richard Carvajal. “This will completely change the way our students interact with us. No longer do they get the runaround; no longer do they stand in multiple lines. Now, instead of being built around on what makes sense for us, we have built around on what makes sense for students when they walk in the door.”

Instead of separate locations throughout the campus of admissions, financial aid, tutoring and placement testing, they will now be merged into one. Before, the Office of Admissions was located in one area of the campus, the Office of Financial Aid in another, and student cashier functions in yet another office located in another area of campus.

Now, the first person a student will likely see is Lisa Reyes-Smith, who has been retrained as a student services representative, and her new location in the one-stop center is in the middle of entrance foyer.

“As a student service representative, I will be doing a little bit of everything,” Reyes-Smith said, as her desk was being finalized for the building’s opening on March 12 when Bainbridge College students returned from spring break.

When students came back, they were served at the one-stop center — one stop for admissions, financial aid, tutoring, registering and records. Furthermore, BC personnel on the other side of the counter are being cross-trained in admissions, financial aid and other areas to ensure students have the same, non-contradictory information and advice. If more in-depth assistance is needed, there are advisers located behind the main counters ready to assist further.

“It’s a complete change,” said Vice President for Student Services Rodney Carr, who has moved his office from the Mobley Administration Building to the one-stop center, which is also referred to as Building 300. “Lots of people are getting new titles and new positions.”

Reyes-Smith was a financial aid clerk before her title and responsibilities were changed to student service representative. She is part of a staff who unanimously decided to implement the “layers of service” structure as opposed to other structures of service.

The staff wanted to go with what would work best for students despite having more of a challenge for themselves retraining and cross-training, said Connie Snyder, BC’s Dean of Students.

Annie F. Salami, who will retain her responsibilities as a financial aid counselor, said the restructuring and renovations make sense.

“I think it’s going to be an asset to the entire campus because everything is under one roof,” Salami said.

The building that now houses the one-stop center used to be the old student services building that housed the bookstore, a pool table and a small cafe. With the addition of the Student Wellness Center, the bookstore and such student life amenities such as gaming tables and a cafeteria have been moved to the Wellness Center.

Construction began July 2011 when the 17,000-square-foot, 39-year-old building was gutted. The project, which cost more than $1.4 million, was done by PDC Construction of Bainbridge, and it was completed two months ahead of schedule, said Larry McConnell, BC’s coordinator of special projects and the supervisor of the renovation.

Although no more square footage was added, the building seems bigger because the old building had so much wasted space in it. For example, there was a conference room Carvajal said he always had trouble finding because it was hidden by a labyrinth.

The façade of the building has also been changed to mirror the façade of the Student Wellness Center, which is across a walkway.

A public open house will be scheduled in the near future, Carr said.