Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Samuel Alioto
Observer Staff Writer 

Santa Monica College Opens New Center for Media and Design

$115 Million in debt to build new quarters for KCRW, which employs students only as fundraisers.


November 28, 2017

You asked for it, you got it: Local voters agreed to go $115 million in debt to build a new SMC media center, despite the fact that only 4% of SMC students are Santa Monica High School graduates.

Santa Monica College announced that it will officially open its newest campus-housing The Center for Media and Design (CMD) and the KCRW Media Center-on December 2, 2017.

We have repeatedly pointed out that only 4% (yes that's right, FOUR PERCENT) of SMC students are santa monica high school graduates, and that about half the student body are foreigners, who pay top dollar to study abroad. So it's unclear to us exactly how this will benefit local residents.

But saying that is a little like gossiping about the Bride on her wedding day, so we'll just print some excerpts from the SMC Press release.

"The grand opening will honor the Santa Monica and Malibu voters whose support for the 2008 Measure AA bond provided primary funding for $115 million in new facilities at the high-tech campus, as well as the 5,800 private donors who donated to a KCRW capital campaign." In other words, you broke it, now you own it, voters.

SMC says "the Center for Media and Design unites all the SMC programs focused on media content development and design-including its first-ever baccalaureate program in Interaction Design (IxD)-on one campus. Only two private universities in California provide comparable degrees in this high-paying tech and design field, and SMC is the only community college to offer the four-year program, at a fraction of the cost."

"The Center houses SMC's film production program and student newspaper The Corsair; industry-centric programs in broadcasting, journalism, graphic design, animation, game design, digital media, interior architectural design, film and media studies and "Promo Pathway", the nation's first accredited program-and industry partnership-to train students for entertainment promotion and marketing production careers.

"KCRW 89.9FM-the award-winning NPR station licensed to Santa Monica College-will also be located on the CMD campus." KCRW does not allow students to be involved in any way in any of its programs, except fundraising.

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President, described the opening of the new campus as "the beginning of a new era-marking the synergy of Santa Monica College's foremost vehicle of public engagement, KCRW, with SMC's vital work of providing pathways to well-paying careers and the possibility of a more promising future to students who would otherwise not have it."

"Not only will this beautiful and modern campus allow us the flexibility of adapting to future technological advances," said Dr. Jeffery, "but it also provides Santa Monica College students an inspiring, collaborative space, with access to experienced professors and industry-standard equipment. With SMC's radio station KCRW literally steps from CMD classrooms and 'hangouts', students will also have the ability to explore new creative possibilities with access to a media operation highly recognized as one of the best in the nation."

The CMD campus will act as a hub for the development of new programs and professional development (many funded through grants such as the state's Strong Workforce Program), and SMC's portion of the LA HI-TECH initiative, the Los Angeles area program established by the White House's TechHire Initiative and launched by President Obama to expand access to tech jobs.

"I cannot overstate the value of this new campus-both to regional industry and to our students," said Frank Dawson, SMC Dean of Career Education. "It unveils our determined interdisciplinary commitment to innovation, exploration, and creative exchange. The college's programs in media and design, as well as KCRW, are varied pieces of the same prospect, all preparing students for the most exciting careers available now and in the future."

Clive Wilkinson Architects designed the project, which consisted of reconfiguring and renovating an existing 50,000-square-foot teaching facility, constructing a new 30,000-square foot instructional media and design wing, a separate new three-story building for KCRW, and a seven-level parking structure equipped with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations. An 18,000-square-foot landscaped courtyard with water features and an outdoor performance stage are showcased in the center of the complex.

Interior shot of the CMD. Say, did we mention ONLY 4% of SMC students are Santa Monica High School grads?

Dr. Andrew Walzer, Chair of the SMC Board of Trustees said that the community’s vote in favor of the 2008 bond Measure AA was “not just a vote to support this essential new resource, but a vote of confidence in SMC’s mission and value to Santa Monica and the greater Southern California region.”

“Expanding career horizons for underserved and first-generation college-bound students is a major priority for this college,” he said.

In addition to the bond, KCRW created a capital campaign to complete and equip the new KCRW building and provide funding for program development. “As Chair of the KCRW Foundation Board, it is an honor to see the dedication and generosity of over 5,800 donors to KCRW, and for their largesse to display itself in such a meaningful way,” said KCRW Foundation Chair Matt Kline. “I know our community will be deeply enriched by this investment in KCRW and SMC because the creativity and learning these great institutions inspire are critically vital to Los Angeles and California’s future.”


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