New Missoula College just weeks from being completed - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

New Missoula College just weeks from being completed

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In about two weeks Missoula College will start moving into its new home above the Clark Fork River. (Dennis Bragg photo) In about two weeks Missoula College will start moving into its new home above the Clark Fork River. (Dennis Bragg photo)

It's been two and half years since University of Montana and state officials broke ground on the over $30-million Missoula College, giving Montana a bold new entry into the expanding world of two year degrees.

Now, subcontractors are putting the finishing touches on electrical, alarm and heating and ventilation systems. Dean Shannon O'Brien and her staff are thrilled and excited at how the project has come together.

"So, the State Department of Administration has been fabulous running the show, and Jackson Contractor Group has just been amazing to work with," O'Brien said. "They have engaged us as the representatives of thinking from the student perspective and a faculty and staff perspective, to answer questions as they come along. They've just been wonderful."

Once the decision was made to locate the new Missoula College at the entrance to Hellgate Canyon, every effort was made to take advantage of the striking location. From the upper and lower level food service and common areas, to the new library and labs for health, pharmacy and medical programs, the new building is flooded by natural light from the windows facing the river and mountains.

And the facility that's taken shape here over the past couple of years is going to be a "wonderful" upgrade for Missoula College as well."

That includes Missoula College's culinary arts and hospitality programs, which will take advantage of a recent $200,000 gift from the Rapier Family to install a full production kitchen with food processing that will also help Missoula Food Bank.

"The opportunities for students and our faculty here at this new building here, it's so exciting," said Missoula College Director of Fiscal and Personnel Services Katie Dalessio. "And we have the opportunity to grow both our culinary arts food service management and our hospitality management program, which is perfect for Big Sky Country, for tourism in Montana."

"Certainly it's a dignified space for students to come and learn and take the risks that they are taking to go back to school and get trained or re-trained," O'Brien said. "But we also have just amazing facilities that give our students the tools that they are going to need to get where they want to be."

Plans call for moving the first equipment and furnishings into the new college in February, with the school hosting its first major seminar in April. The final move-in will happen right after UM graduation, with regular classes at the new location this summer.

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