IBIT center move: construction finally complete

The newly complete IBIT headquarters opened last week. Photograph by Amy Leong

Over the last year, Lot 10 has been closed. It was closed for construction happening on the A building. That construction has recently been concluded and the parking lot re-opened. The construction was for renovating and expanding the top floor and creating a suitable office center for Bellevue College’s Institute for Business and Information Technology (IBIT) center.

While the center was being created, IBIT was housed in temporary quarters at L100 for one year, where students could see a laminated page taped to the wall saying “IBIT-L100.” “For a year we conducted business in L100 and learned to deal with the lack of privacy and noise that is inherent in cubicles,” said Margaret Turcott, Assistant Dean of IBIT.

“It worked, but it didn’t provide the same elements we get here,” said IBIT Dean Phil Needles. “We appreciated it, but it was a temporary space.”

The new office space is much larger and beautifully done.  “I am so happy to be in the new IBIT space,” said Turcott. Rather than a paper sign, this new space has a work of art as a sign.

A reception was held on May 29 to commemorate the opening of this new space. Faculty from every division came to show support for the movement of the business and information technology staff. Interim President Laura Saunders was there, accompanied by Lisa Corcoran, her Secretary. Vice President of Student Services Tom Pritchard was also in attendance.

“It [the new center] represents what students need from a place like this: Lots of light, lots of air. It’s a place for student success,” said Saunders.

Needles said that his three goals for the space were “Collaboration, communication and connection. Those support a place for students to be successful, and it’s important to have a physical space to foster that.” Needles loves the new space and sees that it fulfills those ideals.

The open house featured a guided tour,  given by Deanna Tiplin, administrative manager of IBIT. Needles acknowledged her as being “instrumental in all of this.”

“We’ve got a work room, even!” she exclaimed as the tour began. She showed a collection of faculty around, seeing the offices, the window space, the conference rooms and the space for adjunct professors.

“This is our pride and joy,” said Tiplin. “For our adjunct!” In the new IBIT center the largest office, the corner office, was given to the adjunct faculty in the business and information technology departments.

The space for the adjunct faculty was a point of pride among the staff, especially in light of the fact that fewer and fewer adjunct faculty have offices. Needles said, “I’m thrilled for the adjunct team that they have a space that supports their wonderful work.”

An increasing issue across the country is the lack of office space for adjunct professors. As they teach more and more classes, up to 70 percent in some fields according to the State Board on Community and Technical Colleges, it’s become a problem that they don’t have offices. The IBIT center, therefore, is very happy to have a home for their adjunct professors so students can seek them out.

“I think it [the new center] addresses overcrowding very well,” said Needles about the new space. “It’s representative of how the college can provide for our very important adjunct faculty.”

Tiplin was delighted to be in the new center. “I’ve been here 23 years and we’ve been everywhere!” she said.

Turcott agreed with that for her tenure as well. She said, “When I was hired in 1996, we occupied the A242 area. Most of the staff and all program chairs had offices in A242 with other faculty in offices all around campus. My first office, in 1996, was an electrical closet in the back of A134!”

She reflected on the movements of the business section and how the staff was separated, never in the same office area. With more faculty than space on campus, there was no way for them to be together in the same area.

This is evidence of an overcrowding issue plaguing community colleges all over America. In the last year, massive cuts have been taken from the budget of colleges; because of this schools don’t have the money they used to have to deal with more and more incoming students and faculty, so the space itself doesn’t expand as the population and usage expands. The renovation of the IBIT center, however, is a step in the direction of matching facility expansion with expansion of users. Needles said that it showed how the college can support the institutes.

“When the business division morphed into IBIT, it was determined that IBIT should have a business-like office area where all faculty and staff could be together. So, we were temporarily housed in cubicles in L100 for the last year, while our ‘dream’ office space was created,” said Turcott.

The process of designing and building the new institute began in 2009.

“It’s been most exciting to see the students enthusiasm. That’s a wonderful thing,” said Needles “We want it to be welcoming and inviting, so the students can see ‘this is here to support me.’”