FVCC Updating Master Plan to Map out Future Growth

By Beacon Staff

As Flathead Valley Community College continues to grow, college officials are updating a master plan that will help provide a roadmap for the school’s future.

FVCC President Jane Karas discussed that roadmap during a March 21 presentation, highlighting three priorities that have emerged over the last year and a half during a formal process to update the college’s long-term master plan.

Those priorities are a university center to expand the college’s four-year education opportunities; a student center that could possibly serve as a hub for various services similar to a student union; and a fitness center. Karas also mentioned the possibility of expanded student housing.

Karas pointed out that the priorities are just options right now and nothing is set in stone regarding how they would ultimately look or if they will come to fruition. The board of trustees will vote on the plan in the next few months, at which point some of the details may be more refined. The plan would be implemented in phases over the years.

The school originally completed a 30-year master plan in 2002 to identify how to better meet the community’s needs as the school grows, Karas said in an interview. But since then, both the school and surrounding communities have undergone substantial changes. School officials decided it would be prudent to revisit the plan.

One major change is the amount of land the college now owns. The school has roughly doubled its landholdings to 216 acres since 2002, with its property extending to Reserve Drive behind Home Depot and then down past Walmart Supercenter to Grandview Drive, which is the entrance to the college’s campus off of U.S. Highway 93.

Updating the master plan will help the board and school officials decide how to best use that acreage as the college expands. Some space will be dedicated to two new agricultural programs approved by the board of trustees in February and expected to start up in the fall: a two-year associate of science degree program and a two-year associate of applied science degree program called integrated agriculture and food systems.

The agricultural programs will require fields for crops and greenhouses, which will be factored into the updated master plan.

School officials don’t know yet whether a university center would be located in an existing building or if new space will be needed. The university center would bring faculty from partner universities to offer more on-campus baccalaureate opportunities.

A student center could potentially be a one-stop shop for a host of student services, such as counseling, a cafeteria, student government and more.

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