Garza-Roderick, the dean of San Joaquin Delta College’s South Campus at Mountain House, spent most of her weekend cleaning up the school and preparing it for today’s first day of classes. She said she’s barely had enough time to unpack her office.
This is the first semester of Delta College at Mountain House, at 2073 S. Central Parkway, having moved from Tracy over the summer. Delta College’s main campus is in Stockton.
Garza-Roderick said this new campus, while just a set of portables as opposed to the initial vision of a permanent building, offers more opportunities. She said there were only 6 classrooms at the Tracy center compared to 19 at the 126-acre Mountain House center.
“It’s a lot of work, but it was well worth the wait, just to see all the young students out there,” Garza-Roderick said. “They’re just so grateful. They’re portables and they’re excited.
“Students don’t ask for a whole lot. They just want an education, I believe.”
Today, Garza-Roderick is still running around campus, but now it’s to talk to students and faculty to gauge their feelings on the center. So far, she said she likes what she hears.
“It was nicer than I expected, because I heard rumors that it was just like the old portables at West High,” freshman Nathaniel Vestri said. “Definitely not. Much better.”
Garza-Roderick said the Tracy campus averaged about 2,100 students per semester and Mountain House has opened with an enrollment of about 2,700. She said she was never worried about the disadvantages of lacking a brick-and-mortar campus and being somewhat isolated.
“I’ve done this before,” Garza-Roderick said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”
Unlike the Tracy center, the Mountain House campus has a student lounge and library. She said the campus will feature a cafeteria next summer.
It also has chemistry, biology and physics labs. Garza-Roderick said in the near future, Mountain House will have a microbiology lab for pre-nursing students as well as more science courses. Right now, the new center offers 134 classes.
Garza-Roderick said she has also planned to expand into alternative energy, offering classes about solar and wind technology by the spring.
A few courses are still being held at Tracy and West high schools, but should move to Mountain House by next year.
“It’s pretty exciting because it’s a chance for us to grow and see a lot more students,” English professor Bob Bini said. “We’re going to be able to offer not only more sections, but a wider range of classes. It’s just been building and building.”
Garza-Roderick said that even though Delta College is no longer located in Tracy, she wants to keep ties with the city. She said she doesn’t see it as the college breaking away, but rather just moving down Interstate 205.
“In 15 years, there’s not going to be a difference,” she said, noting a need to think long-term. “The only thing that’s going to separate Tracy and Mountain House is going to be the freeway in the middle. It’s all going to be one community.”
Contact Mountain House Press reporter Justin Lafferty at 830-4269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.