Augusta Julian: BCTC's new campus worth celebrating

Augusta A. Julian is president/CEO of Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Augusta A. Julian is president/CEO of Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

As we each consider our individual year in review, we enjoy and appreciate the "big stories" and "best of" lists. Editors, reporters and columnists offer these reflections and readers love them.

The Dec, 31 article in the Herald-Leader includes in its review many of the most interesting and significant events of the year in our region.

Those listed are certainly important. May I respectfully offer one that I believe should have been included — one which will benefit our region at least as much as the other contenders?

That is the opening of the Newtown Campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

BCTC's Classroom Building, on the former site of Eastern State Hospital, was completed in early spring and opened for students in August. Due to restrictions to parking and ongoing demolitions, fall semester brought to the new building about a third of the courses to be ultimately offered there.

Beginning Jan. 13, the full set of classes in business, office technologies, computer science, graphic design, transfer and film studies will allow up to 1,000 students to have easy access to a first-rate, affordable education.

This site, when completed in late spring, would be the jump-start to a revitalized Newtown Pike area.

Housing, food and retail will surely follow. This part of town will soon be unrecognizable compared to just two years ago.

This is truly a win-win-win for the region and its citizens: a brand-new community college campus repurposing a beautiful 48-acre urban site, upgraded transportation corridors including Newtown Pike and Fourth Street and a dynamic opportunity for developers to provide new services to a resurgent city sector.

The commonwealth added to the win with the transfer of another 12 acres north of Loudon Avenue to be part of the BCTC Newtown Campus. This will allow the relocation of the Fayette County Adult Education program here this summer and the eventual move of other college programs.

Soon to follow, the Lexington Division of Police training academy will locate on the main campus. Many more partnerships are possible and some are already in the works.

This dramatic revitalization of an underserved part of Lexington surely belongs in the "best of" events of the region's 2013. The college's Lexington locations will continue to include, in the foreseeable future, the Cooper Campus on the University of Kentucky campus and the Leestown Campus with its focus on technical career programs.

The Newtown Campus, however, is different. It is the start of creating a more visible, vibrant and future-focused college that now has a chance to grow to be the important regional resource that a comprehensive community college should be.

With additional funds for continued building that could be included in the 2014-16 state budget and ongoing investment by leaders and supporters across Central Kentucky, this campus could soon realize the vision of those who have created this important opportunity.

Of course, this revitalization has only happened through the hard work of many, including those in the Kentucky cabinets of finance and administration, transportation, and health and family services; the Kentucky General Assembly; the Lexington-Fayette Urban-County Government; the University of Kentucky; the staff of the KCTCS System Office; the faculty, staff and students of BCTC; the neighbors and associations around the new campus; and others who were part of the planning and construction.

These groups are both responsible for and beneficiaries of this redevelopment.

The accepted common wisdom says that the creation of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in 1997 has been a great success. Now, the Bluegrass region can see, in the possibilities of the Newtown Campus of BCTC, the next level of commitment that your community college can offer area citizens.

There is much to celebrate in this new year. Continue to look to the faculty, staff and students of BCTC, at Newtown and the other Lexington and regional locations, to show ourselves worthy of anybody's "best of" list.

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