LEMOORE — West Hills College Lemoore students can grab a cup of coffee and order a transcript all in one location now. The school opened its new student union on Tuesday.
“We’ve had kind of this conceptual idea of creating a space that provides administrative services to students but also creates better student life on campus,” said WHCL President Kristin Clark. “So to see [the student union] actually open and to see students in here makes me feel really good.”
Members of the community, city and county officials, military representatives and WHCL staff, faculty and students attended the grand opening Tuesday morning.
The 21,000-square-foot, one-story facility includes space for student government offices, bookstore, cafeteria, additional office space, a study area and a Golden Eagle Help Desk, where students have access to admission, records and registration services all in one location.
Some of the services offered in the new building were previously located in different spots throughout the campus.
The new building was completed in December 2016 and was funded by Measure E and Measure L, bonds passed by voters in 2008.
“We are just so appreciative of the community [passing the bonds],” Clark said.
In addition to the student union, there are about 170 extra parking spaces near the new building.
Clark said she hopes the new building will provide opportunities for more interaction between students and faculty.
“We have quite a few part-time faculty members who don’t have their own office space,” she said. “So they are really looking forward to having this space because they can tell their students, ‘Hey I’ll be over at the union at 3:30 p.m. having coffee, so stop by.’ I think students will take them up on that.”
One of the students who attended the grand opening on Tuesday was health science major Claire Relovasa.
“I really like it,” she said. “It gives students a lot more opportunity to socialize. It’s a great place to hang out.”
Relovasa said she is happy that most of the services are in one location.
“It’s a lot more convenient because of instead of running all over campus, it’s all here in one place,” she said.
During the grand opening, West Hills Community College District Chancellor Frank Gornick recognized former WHCL President Don Warkentin.
“Don has meant a great deal to this campus and the community,” Gornick said.
Warkentin served as president from 2004-2015 and died in February 2016. The student union is dedicated to Warkentin with a plaque at the front entrance of the building.
Warkentin’s wife, Betty, and daughter, Brooke, attended the grand opening ceremony.
“It is beyond amazing and beyond wonderful,” said Betty Warkentin. “It’s well deserved. [Don] loved first God, then family, then West Hills College.”
“The students at West Hills are like his adopted kids,” said Brooke Warkentin. “He really wanted a place for the college kids to hangout and relax.”
Gornick said the student union will be a great place for people to connect not only socially but academically.
"We are real fortunate in Kings County to have this and being supported so well by students and the community," Gornick said.