April 5, 2005
Chandler-Gilbert Community College students and staff find just driving to school can mean learning new things every day.
With two of its campuses near Santan Freeway construction areas, traffic jams and detours challenge those trying to get to the college.
"One of our vice presidents said that coming from where he comes from — south of the college — he has to find a different pathway every day," said college President Maria Hesse.
Hesse said she suspects construction is affecting students’ ability to get to class.
Psychology student Jessica Santos-Rojo would say so. Congestion because of road construction has doubled her commute time from Val Vista Drive and Elliot Road to the campus on Pecos Road between Gilbert and Cooper roads, she said.
"Before, it only took me 15 minutes," she said. Santos-Rojo said she looks forward to late next year when the Santan Freeway should be complete and she can use it for most of her drive.
Patience is the key to surviving road construction at the college’s main Pecos Campus, and at its Williams Campus, on Ray Road east of Power Road, Hesse said.
"If people can just persist, I think they’ll be very pleased with the improvements in both Chandler and Gilbert," she said.
And enrollment growth at CGCC seems to indicate there are persistent students out there.
Hesse said enrollment at the college, which serves about 12,500 students per year, is growing. She expects enrollment to be about 18,000 students at the college’s three campuses by 2015.
"I think when the freeway is completed, we’ll see a further increase in enrollment," she said. "Students will have better access."
Better access might also mean some of them rarely have to travel the new freeway. Using Internet technology to reach students is an expanding service at the college, Hesse said.
The campuses themselves will be expanded and upgraded to accommodate enrollment growth. Many of the changes will be paid for with $87 million designated for the college when voters approved a community college district bond in November.
A new information technology complex, an expanded student center, performing arts space, athletic facilities and 170,000 square feet of new or renovated classrooms at the Pecos Campus will be funded by the bond.
It also will pay for a new health care facility, classrooms and labs at the Williams Campus, along with renovations at the college’s Sun Lakes Education Center at the northeast corner of Alma School and Riggs roads.