Santa Monica College Extends its Reach

Santa Monica College has come back to Malibu after an absence of two decades and is offering credit classes again. With no permanent space in Malibu right now the classes being offered are limited to six general education classes, including art, English, geography, photography, and psychology. Classes are held Tuesday through Thursday in the evenings at Webster Elementary School in the Civic Center area in Malibu.

"We're very pleased to be returning to Malibu with an offering of credit classes. This pilot program will help us determine the demand for courses and the best way to serve the Malibu community," said SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang about the new SMC-Malibu program.

Classes are currently being held at Webster Elementary School in Malibu, however a $135 million bond measure approved by Santa Monica and Malibu residents in 2004 set aside $25 million for an SMC educational facility in Malibu.

It has taken longer than anticipated to buy the land needed to build the permanent Malibu campus, according to SMC's Public Information Officer Bruce Smith. The City of Malibu and the County of Los Angeles are working with SMC to help acquire the land planned for the instructional and educational facility in the Malibu Civic Center area.

With only two classrooms at the moment it is a small operation, but it has become an accepted inconvenience for the students who couldn't get their first choice of classes at the main campus.

The temporary campus is a fifteen-mile drive north up PCH from the SMC main campus in Santa Monica and will be a longer commute for many. Some will be relieved to find SMC classes offered in their backyard.

When asked about the drive, English Prof. Everett Eric Le Grande said, "Its not that far, actually the drive is worth the relaxed atmosphere, I think. I enjoy the drive."

Not everyone is happy about the distance. Some students commented on the heavy traffic and distance from the main campus. Although opinion was mixed, most students are just grateful to get the classes they needed.

The current SMC-Malibu campus, as well as its future manifestation, will be an asset to students who might want to take advantage of the less-expensive tuition option offered by SMC. Even though SMC has had rising costs, it is still cheaper than other private universities like Pepperdine in Malibu. SMC has the reputation of having the highest number of transfers to a four-year school, so the Santa Monica College-Malibu Campus should become a popular option for future students.

When Smith was asked if there was a motivating factor for having the SMC satellite campus located in Malibu he said, "It was the voters of Malibu that brought us up here. The City of Malibu wanted SMC to have a presence in the community."