Lamar celebrates expansion with open house for Cypress Center

Published 8:10 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

From staff reports


Several times in the past few weeks, Suzonne Crockett has walked the halls of the new Cypress Center at Lamar State College – Orange and envisioned a wealth of success happening in the building’s classrooms.

Crockett, the Director of Mathematics, Education, and Leisure Learning, said she’s seen many accomplishments already in the short time the building has been open.

“I love seeing the integration of students to a college campus – to see students sitting at the tables reading, or studying on their laptops, or working with the lab instructors. I love that, I really do,” she said.

Lamar State College – Orange (LSC-O) celebrated the ribbon cutting and open house of the new Cypress Center Friday with the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce, local and state dignitaries, students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.

Campus President Michael Shahan said the Cypress Center has been on his wish list for many years, but he couldn’t find the funding for it.

The opportunity finally came in 2015 when state legislators approved for LSC-O to use tuition revenue bonds to fund a large portion of the $12.5 million project.

“Representative Dade Phelan and Senator Robert Nichols were instrumental in getting that approved for us,” Shahan said. “The remainder of the costs came from the Higher Education Fund.”

Design and construction of the 31,000-square-foot building began in early 2016 by the firm PBK. SpawGlass worked as the general contractor.

Shahan said the building was a crazy idea until it became reality. Discussions on the building began in the mid-1990’s when the college became part of the State system.

“There are centers on four year campuses,” Shahan said. “They is harder to develop on a two year campuses.”

Shahan added, “No one can accuse me of being emotional or excited,” Shahan said. “But inside I am positively giddy.”

Shahan said the building will help produce more graduates who in turn will enter the workforce and educated citizens.

“The classrooms provide us with the tools to teach those students growing up in the digital age,” Shahan said. “This takes us further than ever before.”

Math and education classes started in the Cypress Center in Fall 2017.

“We tried to incorporate the latest instructional technology in the building to give students a better chance to learn,” Shahan said. “It’s a step forward for the campus. We now have new capabilities we haven’t had before.”

Crockett, who has been housed in three different buildings in her 13 years with Lamar State College – Orange, said the Cypress Center’s layout and technology help her faculty and staff members collaborate more for students’ benefit.

Along with the technologically advanced classrooms, the Cypress Center also boasts a large conference room that will be available for use by the community.

President Shahan said the only other large meeting space on campus before the new building was the gymnasium in the Student Center.

“The gym wasn’t suited for a dinner function or a fundraiser or anything like that,” he said. “Regardless what you did to decorate that space, at the end of the day it was still a gym. We were limited.”

The conference center in the Cypress Center can accommodate up to 700 people for lecture events or 400 people for a banquet-type event. The large room can be subdivided into three smaller meeting rooms and includes modern technology.

Outside the Cypress Center is another impressive element – an installment by artist James Surls.

Shahan said Surls created the piece, called Orange Flower, specifically for Lamar State College – Orange because he enjoys having his art in public, educational spaces. The piece is Orange Flower and represents the organic search of knowledge, according Shahan.