By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. --- With Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and other national, state and local officials looking on, the ribbon was cut on Kansas City Kansas Community College’s new Dr. Thomas R. Burke Technical Education Center Monday, Aug. 12.
Dr. Burke, who retired as KCKCC president in 2011, and current Pres. Dr. Doris Givens cut the ribbon and then took the first steps on the inlaid college logo in the lobby of the new TEC at 65th and State Avenue.
More than 400 faculty and staff members and invited guests were on hand for the gala opening.
“Today, we focus on the history of the vision for this unique, one-of-a-kind, Technical Education facility,” said Dr. Givens, who began her job as president two years ago to the day. “I stand on the shoulders of giants – the one who had a vision, Dr. Burke – and the team who conceived, believed and worked to achieve the planting of the seed for this reality, the structure we celebrate today.
“Others watered the vision into a plan to re-energize and re-purpose this old building – the architects, the faculty, staff and deans who provided their input, the construction teams all under the watchful oversight of Vice-President Brian Bode. And now we, the faculty, staff and administrators who are assigned to this building and the students who come to be trained to master the industry standard tools of their trades are going to reap the harvest, the fruits of the vision and the labor of giants.”
Dr. Givens was particularly lavish in her praise of Bode, the Vice-President of Student and Financial Services who took a class in Construction Management to better oversee much of the construction of the $25 million project, which he did almost on a daily basis.
Dr. Burke also applauded a program noted by Gov. Brownback in which the State of Kansas pays full tuition for high school students to attend vocational and technical schools.
“We’ve got $11 million into it and we’re as happy as a lark,” said Gov. Brownback. “I would like to see 500 to 1,000 Wyandotte County students attend here every semester. In today’s society, you have to have skills and this is where you can get those skills and then market those skills. This is a great day and I’m delighted to be here and a part of it.”
Nearly 20 programs will be located in 130,000 square feet in the former Walmart building and the adjoining Plaza. Programs using heavier equipment such as Welding, Small Appliance Repair, HVAC and Machine Technology will be located in the Plaza.
The main building will house such varied programs as Cosmetology, Nail Technology, Culinary Arts, Computer Repair, Medical Assistant and Physical Therapist Assistant. Services offered by both the Cosmetology and Nail Technology programs will be available to the public as part of state certification requirements.
J.E. Dunn Construction is the Construction Manager of the project while Blevins and Bradbury and Treanor Architects designed the buildings.
“The individual efforts and dedication to this project by a lot of people made this project happen,” said Bode. “But I must give a special thank you to five people who truly formed the heart and soul of this project – Cliff Smith, Dean of the TEC; Kristine Blevins and Bob Bradbury of Blevins and Bradbury Architecture; and Jeff McCracken and Matt Wendel of J.E. Dunn Construction. They were here nearly every day, working through issues, fixing problems and living this project. Without their dedication and care we wouldn’t be here today.”