As part of the conference festivities today, I signed up for a pre-conference workshop on the Quality Matters model for online course design (more about that later). Though the workshop was not scheduled to begin until 12:45, I noticed some time scheduled for a tour of the campus where the workshop was held. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself. ” A campus tour? Well, it’s always interesting to see other campuses and how they are set up”. So, I went along with the crowd and boarded the bus to take us from the hotel to the site.
As we approached the campus, the need for a tour became immediately apparent. This place was huge and very fancy! Turns out that the Trinity River Campus of Tarrant County College is lucky enough to be located inside the recently purchased and renovated Radio Shack headquarters near downtown Ft. Worth, Texas. Seems as though the campus was initially scheduled for location in a site nearby and closer to the waterway. But, Hurricane Katrina had other plans and messed up the construction plans and schedule. Enter plan B and the purchase of the Radio Shack facility.
Man…Radio Shack must have sold a LOT of resistors and batteries and remote control toys (I used to work at Radio Shack around Christmas time in college and know for a fact they sold way more little bitty things electrical than they did computers) to build such a beautiful facility. Photos from the Open House in August do better justice than explanations.
The main building is 7 floors with interior passageways, glassed exterior walls, and multiple wings. The cafeteria is not…it’s a Cafe. Plus they have a full-facility fitness center and valet parking (oh…scratch that…no valet parking that I could see…my mistake). With a view overlooking the nearby Trinity River and a grounds and interior replete with commissioned artwork (it came with the building), this is the Ritz-Carlton, 5-star version of a community college. I can see why the purchase was made and $239 million (plus $80 million in renovations) was probably a “steal”. I seriously doubt that even a university with an unlimited endowment would think to construct such a facility for learning but I can tell you that every faculty member on the tour was probably rationalizing why they could or couldn’t really apply to work at the college…myself included.