Southeastern Community College (SCC) President Dr. Michael Ash’s mantra makes the college’s top priority clear: “It’s about the students.”
Ripples of this guiding principle are found in everything SCC does. From their high caliber instruction to their close-knit campus community, SCC is actively creating an environment that fosters multi-level student success. That includes the built environment.
For nearly 50 years, Klingner – previously as Metzger Johnson Architects – has been one of SCC’s architectural and engineering partners. Over that time, SCC’s campuses have continuously evolved to fulfill their mission and meet the needs of the region.
Close relationships with residents, schools, employers, and civic leaders have driven this evolution, helping to guide strategic planning initiatives for the college. This plan is key to providing the programs – as well as the accompanying spaces and tools – that will meet the community’s needs. Now, SCC’s investment in a number of high-profile facilities over the past 10 years is allowing the college to move forward with these plans and reimagine underutilized areas on campus.
“As programs grow and change, we’re able to allocate space and resources accordingly,” said Director of Marketing and Communications, Jeff Ebbing. “Repurposing outdated facilities to meet today’s needs is not only good for our students and our communities, it’s a good use of resources. While these transformations don’t happen overnight, in the end, everyone wins.”
In 2018, that meant working with Klingner to transform underutilized space into the highly-adaptable Murray Art Gallery. Our designers helped the college creatively rethink the functional and aesthetic impact of the space, adding moving gallery walls, specialized lighting, and hidden work areas. The space has made various exhibits and music programming possible, most recently hosting a packed musical tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
“[Klingner] seems to be able to handle anything that we send their way,” said Dr. Ash. “They help us think through solutions for some of the dilemmas we encounter when we are wanting to make improvements, whether it’s new facilities or upgrading existing facilities.”
Another project on the list of renovations recently designed by Klingner is the college’s Auto Collision Lab and Precision Machining Lab. Opened in Fall 2022, the labs were upgraded to enhance circulation and give future technicians access to cutting-edge resources. Not only is this move opening doors for students, but it’s creating new opportunities for SCC.
“Industry leaders have reviewed the two labs and call them state-of-the-art facilities,” said Dr. Ash. “We are even working on a partnership with Toyota Collision to become the first Toyota Collision training program at a college in the US.”
The push to develop bold, clean, modern facilities – not simply in ground-up building projects, but all across their campuses – is attracting new students and faculty. SCC’s dedication to updated educational facilities is helping the college better tell its story, showcasing the incredible opportunities they offer. In the competitive world of higher education, this clear demonstration of quality and consideration of the student experience is crucial.
“Faculty and staff that come to the campuses as potential employees remark on how the facilities look so modern and so clean,” said Ebbing. “They see a college on the go with new facilities and updated spaces. And they want to be part of our success.”
That success is certainly visible at SCC.
“SCC may never be the biggest community college in Iowa, but there’s nothing stopping us from being the best,” said Dr. Ash.
It’s that commitment to excellence that makes SCC projects enjoyable to design.
“The college has good communication, clear expectations, and a vision for the future,” said Klingner architectural designer Russell Brissey. “They are continually making facility improvements to support 21st century learning. It’s exciting to be part of that.”