GBCC Success Center gets go-ahead from PDA

08/26/2014 by Jeff McMenemy

PORTSMOUTH — Great Bay Community College is moving forward with a new version of its Student Success Center after the Pease Development Authority approved the college's conceptual plan.

Michael Fisher, GBCC director of student life, said they hope to begin site work in October and have the center open by the 2015-2016 school year. The center, which will be at the southeast corner of the campus on the opposite side of the parking lot, will include a gymnasium, locker rooms, fitness center, bathrooms and a student lounge, according to Fisher and plans filed with the PDA.

The PDA approved the new plan at its meeting Thursday.

It will allow the college for the first time to offer intercollegiate sports in the 2015-2016 school year, said Fisher, who added the men's and women's basketball teams, along with a women's volleyball team, will be called the Herons.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to start advertising and hire coaches this upcoming year," he said.

The college was accepted into the Yankee Small College Conference, Fisher said. Colleges in the conference are in Maine and Vermont.

GBCC already has preliminary heron logos for its bowling and golf club teams but it is working on a new logo for their official sports teams.

The college decided to scale back its plans for the Student Success Center after bids for what was initially a two-story addition came in higher than the $5 million project price tag.

"It's being paid for by student comp fees and we didn't want to go over $5 million," Fisher said.

The original plan was to put the center on the campus's southwest corner, but the new plan sites the addition without impacting the parking lot or having to build next to classrooms, Fisher said.

The proposed expansion must go through the city of Portsmouth's planning process, but because the college is at the tradeport, the PDA has final approval of the plan.

Fisher said college officials don't expect a "huge increase" in terms of enrollment due to the center, but hope the number of full-time students will increase from the current 29 percent at the school.

"You have to be full-time to play on sports teams," he said.

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