Santa Rosa Junior College’s new multilevel Lawrence A. Bertolini Student Services Center, scheduled for completion this month, brings together under one roof a number of vital student services previously disbursed across the Santa Rosa campus.  


Named for a distinguished businessman, community leader and owner of the Western Farms Center who gave a lifetime of service to his college and the community, Mr. Bertolini served on SRJC’s Board of Trustees for 17 years, including two terms as board president. He was a founder of SRJC’s Alumni Association and served as the “voice of the Bear Cubs” at numerous athletic events for more than 50 years.


Built on the site of the former Doyle Student Center, the new $40 million facility on Elliott Avenue, built with funds from the 2002 Bond Measure A, mixes traditional collegiate Gothic-style design elements with a series of contemporary window, brick and native stone features.  The building blends with the adjacent Frank P. Doyle Library, completed in 2006, and the SRJC bookstore in Pioneer Hall (the first building built on the campus in 1931) to surround the central campus plaza that shaded by a cluster of stately heritage oaks.


Designed by BSA Architects and built under the overall construction management of Wright Contracting Inc. who coordinates the work of all three multi-prime contractors – including general contractor Midstate Construction, Bell Products and Northern Electric – the 72,000-square-foot structure was the collective product of a cohesive team of subcontractors, engineers, consultants, landscape architects and interior designers working together for more than a year and a half. 


“The Bertolini Student Services Center employs state-of-the-art features in the mechanical system,” said Tony Ichsan, SRJC’s dean of facilities planning and operations.  “A vertical in-ground source heat pump, or commonly referred to as “geothermal” – the largest installation of its kind in the county – uses 150 well shafts six inches in diameter, 250 feet deep.  This closed-loop system has tubes in the wells to take advantage of the constant 58o to 61oF earth’s temperature at that depth.  This technology enables facility engineers to heat or cool the structure with a minimum of additional energy resources and reduces the need for large-scale mechanical equipment. The building also utilizes an enthalpy wheel as part of a supply/return air exchange system to help maintain a comfortable environment, improve the indoor air quality and reduced energy use.”


The purpose of the Bertolini Student Services Center is to attract students and entice them to stay on campus, a factor considered vital to student academic success at institutions without residence housing facilities, according to Ricardo Navarrette, vice president for student services and assistant superintendent of SRJC.  “The first floor of the center is devoted to student engagement. It is a place where students can find almost everything they need to enhance their stay at the college.  We want our students to become involved by providing basic amenities, such as a 300-seat indoor dining commons in a style reminiscent of the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park complemented with outdoor patio seating.”


Meals will be provided by contract caterer Fresh and Natural. There is also the Bear’s Den Coffee House, a staff dining room and a 125-seat Student Activities Center with a small stage for entertainment, cultural presentations and other activities. When not used for events, this venue can be converted into a study lounge.


The Student Affairs Office, typically the first stop for college information, is also on the main level as well as the Associated Students Office (student government, clubs, associations, etc.), the Center for Student Leadership and the CyBear Copy Center, where students and staff can obtain photo IDs, make copies, send faxes and more.  A large conference room has been designated as Senate Chambers to support SRJC’s shared governance system that includes the Academic Senate, Student Senate and Classified Staff Senate.


“Our goal was to have a one-stop student center where students can take part in day-to-day activities, have ready access to counseling, and prepare for the transition to the workplace,” said Marty Lee, dean of counseling and support services.  “The Bertolini Student Services Center is just that. Each floor takes students to the next stage in this process and prepares them for higher education and careers. Some 53,000 students come to our counseling center every year.”


The new student center is directly across the street from the recently renovated Plover Hall, home of admissions and records, financial aid, scholarship assistance, assessment and testing as well as new student program services and the cashier’s office.  The co-location of the two facilities means that students can now receive all essential services at one central location on the Santa Rosa Campus.


The second floor is dedicated to providing direct student support. As students and visitors enter the main rotunda they will be met by a suspended, two-story polished teak work of art by renowned local sculptor Ted Kahn. Counseling department advisors help students make informed educational decisions, select career paths and obtain skills necessary for success. 


Student services located on the third floor are designed to help students transition from SRJC to work or to assist them as they move on to other educational institutions.  The Career/Transfer Center's library and computer lab enable students to conduct career and transfer research. It is also a place where they can meet with representatives from universities.  The Student Employment/Federal Work Study Office helps students in finding jobs on and off campus. Work experience, internships and community involvement programs introduce students to real work situations.  SRJC’s Teacher Academy assists students planning to become educators. 


Other top floor assistance centers include the mathematics, engineering and science achievement programs for those planning to pursue bachelor’s degree in these fields; The Puente Program, a cooperative program with the U.C. system focusing on Latino literature and culture; as well as CalWorks, helping students who are parents attain education leading to employment, while also providing a child play area when their parents are accessing services.