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Here's what we got for $40.5 million

Mesa College dedicates spiffy new building — "our school’s new center"

San Diego Mesa College faculty members and students cut the ribbon on its $40.5 million Social and Behavioral Sciences Building on February 11 — the latest in a years-long overhaul of the campus located where Clairemont meets Linda Vista.

Chancellor Constance M. Carroll said when she first came to Mesa College as president in 1993 she was excited — until she saw its older, dingy buildings. To her, it seemed the campus was “built overnight on the cheap.”

“Although we had excellent faculty members and really promising students and a great staff and committed administrators, the campus did not live up to the people who were here,” Carroll said.

But voters passed $685 million and $870 million bond measures in 2002 and 2006, respectively, which allowed the San Diego Community College District’s schools (Mesa College and City and Miramar colleges and seven continuing education campuses) to revamp their looks.

The $1.55 billion in bond funds were earmarked for new facilities, renovations, safety and accessibility improvements, parking, and infrastructure projects. Several projects at Mesa have already been completed, including a more-than $100 million math-and-science center and the renovation of its language center last year.

The recently completed three-floor, 73,717-square-foot Social and Behavioral Sciences Building in the center of the college houses the anthropology, geography, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, communication studies, and exercise science health departments. It contains several classrooms and laboratories, new faculty offices, exhibit space, and a patio.

“It’s this grand edifice that’s our school’s new center. It’s the home of our two largest departments — Behavioral Sciences and Social Sciences — and the seven disciplines within those departments,” said Charles Zappia, dean of the School of Social/Behavioral Sciences and Multicultural Studies.

The new building faces two other major projects that are in the works: the Mesa College Commons, which will house the culinary arts/culinary management program, cafeteria, and book store; and the exercise science and fitness center.

“Those bond measures — propositions S and N — helped to create all these fabulous buildings and the equipment to staff to go inside the building,” San Diego Community College District trustee Maria Nieto Senour said. “If you walk on any of our campuses, you’re seeing the results of those bonds.”

Mesa College officials said the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building was on track to reach LEED Silver Certification. The majority of its interior areas feature natural lighting and ventilation. The building also has a storm-water management system and drought-tolerant native plants.

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