NOVATO - The College of Marin’s Indian Valley Campus (IVC) in Novato has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years with an influx of funding and rising enrollment.

IVC has seen its student population grow by 92 percent since 2005, from less than 800 to about 1,400 this spring.

The northern Marin County campus has benefited from the receipt of $3.4 million in grants, business-sector commitments, in-kind contributions and federal and state financial support to help redesign its curriculum, buy equipment and upgrade facilities.

At the same time, IVC also obtained more than $20.5 million to fund construction of the main campus building, the new Transportation Technology Complex and greenhouses at the Center for Sustainable Horticulture. In addition, a new building to house health sciences department lab programs is scheduled for completion in 2010.

“While IVC has been here since 1975, over the past three and half years we have seen a remarkable transformation,” said Nanda Schorske, dean of Workforce Development and College Community Partnerships.

“There has been a strong commitment by the administration and board of trustees in revitalizing IVC so that the College of Marin could better serve residents in the northern part of the county.”

New marketing outreach methods have been designed to attract college-bound high school graduates and those seeking work force development vocational and technical certificates as well as to provide life-long learning programs for working adults. Other courses help students upgrade basic skills, enhance English fluency, get better jobs and improve incomes.

This enrollment boost is also due, in part, to the introduction of new classroom technology, the expansion of program offerings tied directly to current and emerging private-sector needs – such as a solar technician installer certificate – as well as by increasing the number of courses transferable to four-year universities. Much of this growth has been made possible by a renewed emphasis on public and private partnerships.

In addition to new partnerships, Superintendent and President Fran White has encouraged innovation and new ideas through a competitive grant process. The Education Excellence Innovation Fund is supported by the board of trustees, a group of community leaders known as the President’s Circle, as well as through annual fundraising activities.

Some examples of programs provided initial funding from the fund include the training of faculty to participate in the Marin Simulation Center, the Environmental Landscaping Design program and the “Green Thing,” an all-electric car development project.

The following are other recent developments at IVC:

The solar technician installer integrated training program, started in 2008 with 80 students, began as a partnership between College of Marin and Skyline College with a grant from Skyline to create a learning center focused on studying alternative energy sources and making continuous improvements in energy conservation.

A new pilot project involves transforming a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, called the “Green Thing,” from an internal combustion vehicle to an all-electric car with its own plug-in solar energy recharging station.

The Center for Sustainable Horticulture, established in fall 2008, includes a certified-organic demonstration and teaching farm with a 2.5-acre garden, plus green and shade houses that demonstrate the important role of agriculture in Marin County. The center was the result of a partnership involving the College of Marin, the Marin Conservation Corps and the U.C. extension program of the Marin Master Gardeners.

The Water Management Technology Education Center, launched in July 2007, was founded with assistance from the county board of supervisors, the Marin Municipal Water District, the North Marin Water District, the California State Landscape Contractors Association, Joint Venture Marin and the College of Marin to support the environmental landscaping design program and to keep pace with growing demand for water conservation measures.

The Marin Simulation Center, launched in May 2007, utilizes advanced robotic mannequins in realistic, high-risk health emergency scenarios to increase clinical skills of health care professionals and emergency responders. Founding partners of the center include Kaiser Permanente San Rafael Medical Center, Novato Community Hospital, Marin General Hospital, Sonoma State University, Dominican University of California, the Workforce Investment Board of Marin, the College of Marin and a $200,000 contribution from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The auto collision repair technology and the automotive technology programs will soon be combined in a new $6.9 million transportation technology facility scheduled for completion this year.

A new multimedia studies laboratory was built on the IVC using a $375,000 grant from the Marin County Workforce Investment Board.

During the past three years, IVC has enhanced its university transfer program to create an early bridge to four-year colleges. For example, students wishing to become teachers can jump start their careers while at IVC by also taking classes at San Francisco State University.

Working students and adults can now complete general education classes at nights or on weekends and finish requirements within two years. There are also focused weekend intensive offerings for career classes.

To showcase the new programs and facilities available at IVC, an open invitation is being extended to the community to visit the campus for a two-day Innovations Conference on Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9.

Activities include a demonstration of the Marin Regional Simulation Center, a dedication and tour of the organic farm and garden, a panel presentation on Marin County’s stimulus funding as well as informational sessions on career and vocational programs. For more information, e-mail careers@marin.edu.