Santa Monica College’s satellite Malibu campus is just days from opening. The 25,000-square-foot modern structure sits on a three-acre parcel in the heart of the Malibu Civic Center overlooking Legacy Park.
The construction, which took a little more than four years, was built with sustainability standards and is LEED certified. Its systems are water and energy efficient, using passive air ventilation and a circulation system controlled by window louvers. There’s a green roof, storm water retention basin, and drought-tolerant landscaping. The campus includes two classrooms, an art studio, computer lab, and lecture hall. There’s even a lactation room. A multi-purpose room abuts the building’s wing housing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s substation. The flexible space can double as an Emergency Operations Center.
“This building has an innovative design,” said SMC Malibu Associate Dean Alice Meyering. “It’s kind of open on the top so it encourages people to move around. In that way it kind of fits the area of Malibu.”
An extensive tile mosaic inside the building’s entrance she commented “honors its Malibu location” and vicinity to the beach.
The $65 million project was funded by two voter-supported measures: Measure S was passed in 2004 and Measure V was passed in 2016. The school bonds are funded solely by Santa Monica and Malibu property owners, although, as the Santa Monica Daily Press reported in 2016, only 4 percent of enrollees came from Santa Monica or Malibu high schools, and indeed, the SMC website itself indicates that 14 percent of students are not even from California.
SMC Malibu classes can be for credit, non-credit, emeritus, and community education students. Emeritus, non-credited classes, which are geared to older adults and fee-based community education classes are long-running programs through the college. For years, SMC offered classes at Webster Elementary School to accommodate local residents.
“That’s one of the desires why we feel an educational facility would be great in Malibu because for many years we had a limited space,” Meyering said. “We could only use it at night. This way you have a dedicated campus to learning and community engagement that’s specific for that purpose. We be accessible to everyone.”
Classes will run weekdays day and night. The spring semester starts Feb. 13.
“Anyone who’s interested in taking a class here at the Malibu campus will have the opportunity,” Meyering said.
Offerings include enrichment classes such as barre fusion exercise, architecture appreciation, and vocal yoga, offered mid-days. Emeritus classes scheduled include writing, current events, acting, painting, and drawing.
One hundred and fifty students are currently enrolled for the spring semester, but the dean expects that number to grow.
“This is a new campus,” she said. “We have a lot of unknowns. Once we get going we’ll have a better idea of what classes would be. Students are still enrolling. We want to accommodate as many people who want to be here. We want to satisfy the demand. There’s a desire to provide what the City of Malibu and Malibu residents want to take place here.”
Of the 30 classes available, Statistics has proved popular, with a second section added to accommodate another 45 students.
“We’re looking to add more classes and sections as they fill up,” Meyering said.
Film appreciation and public speaking are other classes beginning to fill according to the dean.
And where are the students commuting from?
“We think they are going to be coming from Santa Monica,” Meyering said. “We hope that people in Malibu will want to use this campus as much as they can. We can probably expect people from the surrounding communities.”
Meyering said SMC is still analyzing how many enrollees are from Malibu: “We have to gain access to the student data.”
When asked if classes will be available to MHS students, Meyering emphatically answered, “Of course.” She indicated there was a dual enrollment agreement and SMC will listen to student needs.
“We’re trying to reach out,” she said.
The new administrator and staff say they will try to accommodate the needs of MHS students, “their preferences…whatever they’d like us to provide for them, we’re partners in that effort.
“We hope many of our students will be from Malibu. This is a site that’s built in Malibu for Malibu,” Meyering said. “That’s always been the goal that people would take full advantage of this site. We can use the space for community outreach.”
SMC Malibu is already trying to build a relationship with the Malibu Library to possibly expand its popular Speaker’s Series.
“This could be a space where people come together,” Meyering stated.
“We feel very honored to be serving this campus,” Meyering concluded. “We’re looking forward to welcoming our first group of students. We want to make this a beautiful experience for everyone who comes through our door and to create a great opportunity for learning and connecting.”
For more information on the campus, go to SMC.edu/Malibu.