Against a backdrop of an azure morning sky, a steel beam was hoisted atop Grossmont College’s new science, math and career technology complex during a recent topping-out ceremony, marking the apex of the $37.1 million construction project.
“This topping out illustrates how Grossmont College continues to grow in our community,” college President Denise Whisenhunt said at the December 17 event. “A symbol of growth and newness – this is what this ceremony is about.”
Pausing to the sound of construction, which she described as a “sound of a symphony,” Whisenhunt recounted the words of a young architect, Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“She said, ‘I like to think of my work as creating a private conversation with each person, no matter how public each work is and no matter how many people are present,’” Whisenhunt said, before inviting college and district officials and attendees to join her in autographing the steel beam as part of an age-old construction tradition.
The 59,000-square-foot structure, spread across twin buildings, will greatly expand classroom, lab and office spaces for programs and departments including Physical Geography and Oceanography, Human Geography and Social Sciences, Math and Geology.
Targeted for completion in the spring of 2023, the structure will also quadruple the space of the current Veterans Resource Center and include a one-stop center providing counseling, tutoring and social space for the college’s student veteran population.
“It will be a place to support the 700 veterans who call our college home,” Whisenhunt said.
Chancellor Lynn Neault said the new center is a milestone project updating a cluster of aging buildings badly in need of renovation and reconstruction to accommodate new technology and other pressing student needs.
Phase 1 of the two-phased project was completed in spring 2020 and included the full renovation and replacement of Building 31, which now houses the Administration of Justice program and Child Development Center.
“This is more than a building,” Neault said. “It will be a state-of-the-art facility for years to come. With it, we will be ready serve the constantly changing needs of our students.”
Governing Board President Brad Monroe thanked the taxpayers of East County for their many years of support of the college district, particularly for the passage of Proposition V, a $398-million bond measure approved in 2012. Proposition V funding has enabled the new construction and remodeling taking place at both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.
The measure picked up where Proposition R ended, the 2002 construction bond approved by voters in 2002.
“This is just spectacular,” Monroe said. “I was involved in topping-out ceremonies at Cuyamaca College, where I was an instructor for many years. This is my first one as a board member. The East County community has supported this district ever since its founding 60 years ago. My history with the district doesn’t go quote so far back – just 40 years, but in those years, I have seen significant changes within this district, especially at this campus.”
Monroe praised the Proposition V bond program for its near-perfect scores it has consistently earned from taxpayer watchdog groups for transparency and the work of the associated citizens bond oversight committee.
“Grossmont College is making a difference and our district is the largest provider of higher education and workforce training in East County, contributing $1.1 billion annually to the local economy. We know this building will only help us add even more.”
Other Proposition V projects include a newly opened Ornamental Horticulture Complex and a Student Services building under construction at Cuyamaca College.