New $145 million City College campus to open in Summer 2012 without books, furniture or supplies

The site of the new and permanent home of the Chinatown/North Beach Campus of City College on Dec. 4, which will offer language, citizenship and vocational programs for the community. BETH LABERGE / THE GUARDSMAN




By Lulu Orozco

The Guardsman

The new Chinatown/North Beach campus is tentatively set to open for classes in summer of 2012. But campus staff and community supporters are facing an urgent shortage of $400,000 to fully furnish the inside of the building. Without basic supplies students and faculty members won’t be able to perform daily tasks. 

An open letter printed in the Nov. 16, 2011 issue of City Currents stated that the budget required for purchasing furniture and materials was $5 million, with an original shortfall of $800,000.

After that letter was printed the college received a matching donation of $400,000 from former City College student and long-time supporter Lillie Wong. Mrs. Wong is the aunt of college trustee Lawrence Wong.

Expensive construction delays have hit the campus hard ever since the ground-breaking back in November 2008. According to The Examiner, the campus original price tag was $4.19 million almost eight years ago. The current cost is estimated at $145 million. That’s more than $100 million over budget.

With such a bloated budget, money for basic necessities such as furniture, fixtures, equipment for the computer labs, books for the library and instruments for the science labs is nowhere to be seen.

“The state is very clear on how the dollars can be spent, we are trying to make every purchase a wise purchase.” said Joanne Low, Dean of the Chinatown/North Beach campus and Associate Vice Chancellor of International Education.

“I originally believed the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E) funds from the state would cover equipment such as microscopes, but it does not pay for things such as science equipment or books for the Library.

The 14-story high-rise and four-story annex is state-of-the-art, a vast improvement over the older and smaller Filbert campus. The number of classrooms and amount of available space will be extensive compared to the old campus’ 20 classrooms and its various off-site locations.

The new location features large expansive windows throughout, art glass panels, Chinese scholar rocks, and electronic “smart” controls in every room. The new campus will also offer more transfer and degree credit classes.

“We are now going to have a floor-and-a-half of in-campus library space, a learning assistance center, science labs, credit classes, a resource center for students and an auditorium that will double as a community space,” said Low. “The campus will open up a world of activities that we haven’t been able to offer college students and the community.”

“We are going to open our doors,” she added, “but we also want the supplies to run the programs.”

The donations needed to furnish the campus will be raised through the community effort of groups such as the Friends of Educational Opportunities in Chinatown, the Asian Coalition, a community fundraising committee chaired by retirees Frances Lee and Mamie How, and the Foundation of City College of San Francisco. The CCSF Foundation members include Trustee Lawrence Wong, Foundation director Genelle Relfe and Dean of Development Kathleen Alioto.

In an effort to raise the remaining $400,000 a community fundraising dinner has been planned for Friday, Dec 16 at the Far Eastern Cafe in Chinatown.

Small businesses, community supporters and public banks have been asked to become Dinner Patrons and Sponsors donating at levels ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

“Whats really inspiring is the students of City College who have stepped forward, who are limited in English and are still willing to participate in this kind of fundraising action” said Cary Fong, a member of Friends of Educational Opportunities in Chinatown.

“Students themselves have raised over $20,000 in cash through donation boxes. One person alone has donated $3,000.”


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