Gillette College's Expansion

By Joe Morris on March 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm EST
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Gillette College has a way of mounting a strong response to challenges.

Dorm Interest

When the subject of dormitories came up a while back, some wondered if the college would have any interest from students. Similar questions were posed regarding the interest in new fields of study and even adding sports teams. And the answer, every time, has been a resounding ‘yes.’

“In August 2009, we had the grand opening of our first student-housing village, which is four buildings with 100 beds in total,” says Dr. Paul Young, executive dean. “We had it filled, and even a waiting list, before construction was finished.”

In addition to students, the buildings also house some faculty members so that it’s a true living/learning community, and a model for future growth as part of a campus master plan that calls for an eventual 500 beds.

“Our first hurdle was to fill it, and it was really the first project in a set of baby steps for us as we work to become a residential college,” Young says. “Now we have students and faculty living there, holding study sessions and other academic activities. It’s been more successful than we could have imagined.”

Technological Education Center

Across campus, the new $40 million Technological Education Center has opened, giving faculty 96,000 square feet of teaching space for the college’s various industrial programs, but also providing classrooms, computer labs, study areas and, right in the center of it all, a new culinary training center.

“We’ve got a 2,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art kitchen like you’d see on ‘Iron Chef,’” says Young. “It even has extras like videoconferencing cameras that can zero in on the prep area so we can talk to other colleges while we have chefs demonstrating techniques for our students.”

The center will be home not only to Gillette College students, but also to an academy for high school students in the area. In that capacity, it joins the successful energy and hospitality-related academies already giving local and regional students a leg up on their careers while they finish high school.

“We’re very excited about being able to widen the horizon for these young people,” Young says. “These academies prepare them for jobs here in Gillette, or in the entertainment and restaurant industry in Jackson Hole, even on cruise ships … the sky’s really the limit.”

For now, though, Young says he’s content to catch his breath and (briefly) let the dust settle.

“We’ve gone from 20 acres and one main building two years ago to four buildings on 90 acres now,” he says. “We’ve got new sports teams like men’s and women’s basketball, and a whole lot of excited students. But don’t get too used to anything around here, because we’ll be changing it all around again before long.”

Read more about education in Gillette, WY.

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