CWC President Dr. Jo Anne McFarland and Board Chairman Charlie Krebs cut the ribbon dedicating the new $18 million Health and Science Center on the Riverton campus this afternoon. From left: Dr. Roger Gose, St. Rep. Patrick Goggles, former St. Rep. Del McOmie, Sen. Eli Bebout, Krebs, McFarland, Wyoming Community College Commission Executive Director Jim Rose; Dean Kathy Wells. (Ernie Over photo)

(Riverton, Wyo.) – The voters of Fremont County were thanked over and over again this noon during the dedication of Central Wyoming College’s new $18-million state-of-the-art Health and Science Center.

“This day we are one big community. We are grateful for the public and private support,” said CWC President Dr. Jo Anne McFarland as the dedication began. “We are celebrating the power of students and the power of investing in higher education today. It is a day for appreciation and celebration. This belongs to all of us.”

The Chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees, Charlie Krebs, said he thought this day would never come. “But here it is, on time and under budget,” he said to a round of applause. “We now have adequate space and space for future expansion in emerging health fields for our students to prepare for good jobs to feed our local and state economies.

“This is a testimonial to the voters and to the vision, persistence and belief that this could happen,” said Dr. Jim Rose, Executive Director of the Wyoming Community College Commission. “There is no facility to compare to this one anywhere,” he said, “and the research programs here for undergraduates is second to none.” Rose said a building trend in education are massive open online courses where up to 300,000 students have enrolled in one class, “But the completion rate is only eight percent. There is no substitute to one-on-one contact with professional instructors,” he said.

It was pointed out during tours of the facility that the ratio of instructors to students in the college’s health and science curriculum is 1:8.

Sen. Eli Bebout noted that “today is a great day, especially for students.” Bebout said the new center “would provide students with the tools to effectively compete in today’s world.” The Riverton legislator said the dedication marked the culmination of a vision. As President McFarland noted in her remarks, Bebout also said, “we have learned from failure, but the voters made a good decision and the legislative funding that was approved was the right thing to do.” The first time the college went to the voters, in November 2008, the issue was packaged with various county municipality needs and a recreation center proposal from Riverton. Voters soundly defeated the issue then.

However, a standalone $11.5 million bond issue for the Health and Science Center was approved by voters in November 2010 and the Wyoming Legislature contributed another $6.55 million in matching money to fund the project.

Rep. Patrick Goggles, a CWC graudate, said the college had greatly contributed to the education and job skills of so many people so close to home, and he said he was proud of the college’s role in the community. He said that in his 10 years in the legislature, he always supported the college. He also noted the residents of the Wind River Reservation have been very supportive of the college. “The end result is a highly trained workforce and good paying jobs locally. This will improve health care in the area.”

Former St. Rep. Del McOmie said he had been a strong supporter of the college, both in Lander and at the state legislature where he served seven terms in the House of Representatives. “I am proud of Lander’s overwhelming support of this center (in the 2010 election) and that Lander’s Kathy Wells developed the premier school of nursing in the nation right here,” he said to thunderous applause.

The Dean of CWC’s Health and Science Department, Kathy Wells, said the new facility represented a revolution in learning. “Students will be immersed in classrooms and labs developed around the student. This building was designed to put students in the heart of learning,” she said. “Not only will it serve today’s learners, but those of tomorrow as well.” She praised the facility as being both safe for students and technologically advanced.

The ribbon was cut and public tours began, followed by a lunch on the lawns surrounding the new building.

Photos by Ernie Over. Click to enlarge

Building Facts:

• 52,342 square feet

• Cost: $18,050,000 (inclusive)

• $11.5 million in building bonds expected to retire in June 2026

• 46 subcontractors (including engineers and consultants)

• Number of classrooms:

One auditorium

Six science labs

Three skill labs – Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistant, Allied Health

One Nursing Simulation Lab

Two classrooms

Two computer labs

CWC Programs housed in the new Center

• Anatomy/Physiology

• Biology/Microbiology

• Chemistry

• Environment, Health and Safety

• Geology/Earth Sciences

• Healthcare Solutions Grant Programs

• Idea Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

• Nursing/Certified Nursing Assistant

• Physics

• Undergraduate Student Research Programs