For nearly 12 years, officials at Foothill-De Anza have worked to secure a spot for their students at the Research Park. In an interview with the Voice earlier this week, Chancellor Martha Kanter said the district sees it as a chance to provide students with unprecedented learning opportunities.
Kanter said the district is working closely with San Jose State University and the University of California system to create a "super campus" where students work closely with professionals in the fields of math, science and engineering. She said the three university systems view each other as close partners in the park's development, and plan to build facilities adjacent to each other.
"We really want to be closely tied to them. What was very exciting for us was the possibility of having a site where we could leverage each other's strengths, but not duplicate what's going on at our home campuses."
Kanter said the next step is to get faculty to discuss a curriculum that would allow students the chance to take classes from a variety of educational institutions. The idea, she said, is for students taking courses at the Research Park to receive their lower-division credits from Foothill-De Anza and then to complete their upper-division credits through San Jose State. Those going on to do graduate and research work could possibly become students of the UC system.
All the while, Kanter said, students would get the chance to work with NASA scientists and biotech companies in their fields of interest. Kanter said a "green tech/clean tech" emphasis is being developed as a main mission for scientists, companies and students who collaborate at the park. Google is also planning to have a major presence there.
"We want to try to put together a new model of education, one that addresses what a college education will look like in the future. We want to make it much more engaging for our students," she said.
Kanter said student enrollment at Foothill-De Anza and community colleges across the state is down, and hopes student interest will increase as the park is developed. She also thinks the Mountain View location — a central spot on the Highway 101 corridor — makes it great for student accessibility.
If Foothill-De Anza is allowed to join the park, the district has at least two to three more years of planning before it could begin construction.
Through Measure C, passed by voters in the district in 2006, Foothill-De Anza was allocated $40 million for construction of off-campus facilities. Kanter said she thinks the local community would rally around additional bond monies in the future for the project.
For now, Kanter and colleagues have to wait to see how plans for the park develop, a waiting game they've been playing for more than a decade.
"Every year we get a little closer to that vision. We have to be flexible and we have to stay focused. And we have to be patient while we wait for the go-ahead," she said.