New campus is christened

POULSBO — With Mt. Rainier and Liberty Bay providing the backdrop, the sun shone brightly on the 38,000-square-foot Olympic College Poulsbo campus, along with those gathered outside Thursday afternoon to cut the ribbon on Little Norway’s new institute of higher learning.

“The day we had the ground-breaking here about 18 months ago was a lot like today,” said Olympic College President David Mitchell to the 150 or so gathered at the school’s dedication. “We want you to know this building is your building.”

With that, Olympic College Poulsbo was officially christened — and as recently revealed, the campus also became award-winning, according to the American Institute of Architects’ Washington Council.

OC Poulsbo — with the help of Suquamish resident and architect Craig Curtis, who designed the OC satellite campus — has received a Civic Design Award from the architect organization.

Speakers at the dedication included past and present OC Board of Trustee Members and present at the event was Mayor of Poulsbo Donna Jean Bruce, past Mayor Mitch Mitchusson and County Commissioner Chris Endresen.

“I’m really amazed at the public support,” Mitchell commented. “There is incredible support and sense of pride in this community.”

The school, built on land donated by the Olhava family over 10 years ago, opened its doors Jan. 5, and is running at about a third of its capacity of 1,500. Built with donations as well as a $13 million state grant, the college is the second satellite facility Olympic has built; the other is in Shelton.

“It’s a beautiful facility and a wonderful asset to our area,” said former OC Board of Trustees Chair Barbara Stephenson said.

The road to its opening was filled with challenges but everything turned out for the best, said current OC Board of Trustees chair Pete Crane.

“We thought, if everything went just right, we’d have a college opening in January of 2004,” Crane said. “And we did.”

Commissioner Endresen said she was also impressed with the facilities and the many aspects of programs offered by the school, for both the young and old.

“I’m a big supporter of life-long learning,” Endresen said. “(OC Poulsbo) provides such a great opportunity for people of the North End to take advantage of those kids of learning opportunities.”

Increasing access to the school for the North End of the county was also a primary goal in making the Poulsbo campus a reality, Olympic College Foundation Director Joan Hunten said.

“It really opens up the access to this community for higher education,” Hunten said. “Now we’re easier to get to than a ferry ride.”

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