HLC Self Study
Chapter 5 Graphic

Building our Future - Phase III: Capital Projects

Estrella Hall Expansion (2013): Planning is underway for a 40,000-square-foot addition and a 15,000-square-foot remodel of Estrella Hall. Plans include approximately 18 new classrooms, a community room, individual study rooms, and faculty offices, as well as additional new and redesigned spaces for the Information Commons, the Learning Enhancement Center and the Library.

Mariposa Hall (2010): Mariposa Hall is the College’s second capital project resulting from the 2004 Maricopa County Community College District bond election. The building, which received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – Gold certification, demonstrates key areas of innovation in teaching and learning. Mariposa Hall serves the College’s growing population with nine classrooms, one multi-purpose lab, two state-of-the-art nursing simulation labs, faculty and staff offices, instructional support areas, and informal learning spaces.

SouthWest Skill Center (2010): In the summer of 2009, approximately 25,000 square feet of the SouthWest Skill Center (SWSC) was renovated in connection with Mariposa Hall.  Within the new construction of Mariposa Hall, this joint project replicated and enhanced nursing laboratory spaces that had previously been housed in the SWSC. Additionally, other spaces that were in need of updating were re-purposed and renovated. These spaces included classrooms, laboratories, computer commons, offices, and academic support areas.

Physical Plant Expansion (2010): Construction on the expansion of Estrella Mountain’s Physical Plant Building began in May 2009 and was completed in January 2010.  This project added over 5,000 square feet to the existing 6,500 square foot building, and remodeled and repurposed another 1,500 square feet of the existing facility. The new and remodeled spaces provide over 3,500 square feet of environmentally-controlled storage space for the campus shipping and receiving department. In addition, over 3,000 square feet was allocated for new offices, maintenance and carpentry workshops.

Central Plant Upgrade (2009): Planning for the upgrade and increase of the Central Plant’s equipment actually began in early 2002 and was undertaken to prepare for the 2004 Maricopa County Community College District bond election. Planning culminated in 2003 with an engineering study designed to focus on increasing the capacity of the Plant’s equipment, while also creating energy use efficiencies. Construction and equipment replacement began in October 2008. Completed in late spring 2009, this successful project added over 600 cooling and heating tons to the College’s capacity.  This addition provides the capacity to add up to 500,000 square feet of new facilities, while reducing Estrella Mountain’s energy consumption by approximately 20 percent.

Science Labs (2007): Estrella Mountain created eight new state-of-the-art science labs and improved nursing laboratories in response to the growing demands of the West Valley community in the fields of bioscience and healthcare services. As part of the College’s capital development program,  the Institution remodeled 9,000 square feet of existing labs and added an additional 11,000 square feet, to bring the College’s total to more than 20,000 square feet in dedicated science space. The project resulted in 14 labs and two expanded preparation areas. The institutional impact is that now, all students in science, math, engineering, and nursing pre-requisite programs utilize these spaces. Students who are enrolled in one of these courses experience fully-equipped lab space that was designed from the start to the finish, utilizing the expertise of the faculty who teach and have professional experience in the specific science disciplines.

Ocotillo Hall (2006): The first capital project in Phase III, Ocotillo Hall is a 32,000-square-foot classroom complex that features 22 learning studios, faculty offices, informal learning spaces, and the integration of the newest technology and advancements in learning space design.

Buckeye Land Purchase (2006): Located 22 miles from the College, the 80 acres purchased in Buckeye will serve as a future campus site and allow Estrella Mountain to meet the needs of a growing West Valley community. Land boundaries include the following: El Mirage Road, Northern Avenue alignments, the county line, and the Sun Valley Parkway alignment.

To help bridge the gap until the land can be developed, in partnership with the Town of Buckeye, the College opened the Buckeye Educational Center in fall 2011. The Center is located in a newly remodeled facility adjacent to Buckeye Union High School. Funding for the project was split with the Town of Buckeye, with the Maricopa County Community College District funding the College’s portion through the use of capital funds. The Estrella Mountain Community College Buckeye Educational Center consists of six classrooms, tutoring rooms, administrative support spaces, faculty and staff work areas, and student service areas.  Estrella Mountain is currently in the process of requesting that the Buckeye Educational Center be added as an additional location by the Higher Learning Commission.

Going Green

Estrella Mountain is committed to sustaining the quality of life for future generations, while meeting the needs of our current generation. As a result, the College has put into practice sustainability initiatives that go beyond “going green” to ensure that Estrella Mountain is making a contribution to better the environmental well-being of the West Valley.

Estrella Mountain Community College is a signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. Under guidance of the campus Sustainability Committee, the Institution is working toward completing the following goals as outlined by the Commitment:

  • Initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible
  • Initiate two or more actions to reduce greenhouse gases
  • Make the action plan, inventory and periodic progress reports publicly available by providing them to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for posting and dissemination

In February 2011, the AASHE announced that Estrella Mountain received a bronze rating for its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report. STARS is a voluntary, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to gauge progress toward sustainability.  Estrella Mountain was the first institution in the State of Arizona to be rated by AASHE using STARS. Other college accomplishments include:

  • LEED – Gold certification for the College’s newest building, Mariposa Hall
  • Member of Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED)
  • Develop Sustainability Web page
  • Implementation of a college-wide recycling program
  • Member of Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Member of United States Green Building Council (USGBC)

Financial Resource Plan

The purpose of the Estrella Mountain Community College Financial Resource Plan, a five-year plan, is to serve as a guide in the efficient utilization and allocation of college resources. The Financial Resource Plan is fully integrated with the College’s strategic planning goals. As an example, since fiscal year 2004-2005, the College has increased its number of full-time faculty by more than 46 percent to support the dramatic enrollment growth and the effort toward becoming a more comprehensive Learning College.

To assure financial stability, the Financial Resource Plan identifies a percentage of funds that are set aside to support the increasing cost of instruction and to offset potential budget shortfalls.  The College has received bond funds to support the purchase of equipment. Theses funds are used to support the enhancement of technology in learning spaces and the creation of new workforce development programs.  In an effort to sustain institutional operations, plans have been developed to build a contingency for when the General Obligation Bond dollars are exhausted.

Enrollment Management Plan

The Enrollment Management Plan at Estrella Mountain is a systemic approach to recruiting and retaining students for optimal college enrollments. The comprehensive plan addresses the areas of retention and engagement, sustainable enrollment growth, recruitment, maximizing facility needs, and meeting community needs.  The plan aligns with the College’s Strategic Direction of Maximizing Student Success, with several enrollment objectives targeting improvements in services for underprepared students, retention activities and the graduation rate.

Instructional Plan

The purpose of the Estrella Mountain Community College Instructional Plan, a 10-year plan, is to set priorities and directions for quality programs and instruction. The plan states that all instructional programs and courses will continue to incorporate academic rigor and demonstrate student learning through achievement of one or more of the College’s general education abilities. The Instructional Plan includes specific goals for each of the mission purposes and process guidelines for the creation or dissolution of programs. Guiding Principles for the College Instructional Plan include:

  • Be consistent with Estrella Mountain’s vision, mission, goals, and core values
  • Link to budget and strategic planning processes
  • Emphasize learning, student success and responsibility
  • Integrate meaningful assessment through student academic achievement and the institutional effectiveness efforts
  • Promote the use of appropriate technology
  • Maintain the highest academic standards
  • Develop diverse teaching and learning environments
  • Identify resources and services in support of student success
  • Develop credit and noncredit offerings in response to target market needs
  • Foster collaboration and partnerships
  • Support accreditation efforts
  • Review and revise on an ongoing basis
  • Be consistent with the Higher Learning Commission Guidelines
  • Follow the U.S. Department of Education Federal Compliance requirements

Learning and Technology Plan

Estrella Mountain Community College’s planning documents demonstrate awareness and knowledge of emerging factors such as technology, demographic shifts and globalization. Expanded from just a technology plan in order to incorporate a focus on learning, the Estrella Mountain Community College Learning and Technology Plan is a comprehensive five-year plan that accommodates college growth.

The current policy calls for the replacement of employee and classroom computers every five years, unless it is deemed that a particular model of computer can serve its intended purpose beyond that point. This change is possible due to improved technology. For example, in order to conserve funds, monitors are normally not replaced until they fail. These efforts support an attempt to roll over approximately $200,000 to $300,000 from college-managed technology bond funds each year. This will allow the College to build a post-bond technology fund for use in the interim between expiration of the 2004 bond issue and the passage of a new bond.

In terms of the 2010-2011 academic year, the College replaced existing four-year-old or older computers mainly for staff members (replacing Dell GX 520’s with 780’s). In order to satisfy student demand, some GX520’s were placed in the Information Commons to provide basic Internet for students during busy semester times. With the introduction of the learning studios in 2005, the College established technology levels for all classrooms. Level III classrooms are equipped with one laptop per student seat. Level II classrooms are equipped with one laptop per group of students. Level I classrooms are not equipped with student laptops. The College continues to move toward converting a number of classrooms to Level III by adding more laptops in each space. The trend seems to be moving toward having more laptops available in the classrooms. This, of course, has a budgetary impact and adds to the need to extend the life of computers as long as possible. In response, additional memory has been added to laptops in several areas in order to increase their performance and extend their life. The College has also experimented with netbooks, refurbished laptops and desktop virtualization as potential cost-saving approaches. 

Strategic Plan

Estrella Mountain Community College’s Strategic Plan is entitled, Building a Learning College: Strategic Directions and Priorities 2010-2013. The Strategic Plan consists of strategic directions and three-year priorities. Together, the directions and priorities position the College to become a comprehensive higher education institution.

Each year, Estrella Mountain’s Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness facilitates a strategic planning retreat for the members of Leadership Council to review, evaluate and update the strategic directions, priorities and objectives. Any changes are provided to Senior Leadership for review and feedback. The final plan is brought back to the Leadership Council, which makes the final decision regarding the adoption of the strategic directions and priorities for the College. 

The most recent version of the Estrella Mountain Strategic Plan represents the College’s commitment to learning. Aligned with the Learning College objectives identified by the League for Innovation in the Community College, while remaining consistent with the Maricopa County Community College District, the following Strategic Plan is intended to guide planning and resource allocation processes that happen across the Institution.

Building a Learning College: 2011-2013 Strategic Plan

Direction I: Maximizing Student Success – Estrella Mountain will create and expand learning-centered programs and strategies that support the success of students.


  • Expand programs and services to support the success of underprepared and developmental students
  • Foster student engagement campus wide
  • Enhance career and educational planning
  • Create a systemic approach to recruiting and retaining students for optimal college enrollments

Direction II: Creating a Culture of Assessment – Estrella Mountain will commit to assessing and documenting learning outcomes across divisions that result in strategies to improve learning.


  • Strengthen assessment of learning outcomes at the college, program and course level to ensure accountability and continuous improvement
  • Integrate Learning College Principles in program evaluation processes
  • Incorporate community and student input as part of the assessment process

Direction III: Creating an Organizational Culture that Supports Learning – Estrella Mountain will cultivate an organizational culture where policies, programs, practices, and employees support learning as the major priority. This includes professional development programs and diversity initiatives that prepare all employees to become more effective facilitators of learning.


  • Expand employee learning and development opportunities in support of the Learning College Principles
  • Commit to continuous pedagogy improvement
  • Develop innovative employee recognition programs
  • Recruit and hire employees to support the Learning College
  • Improve communication with internal and external communities
  • Commit to a culture of accountability

Direction IV: Creating Dynamic Environments that Support Student Learning – Estrella Mountain will promote and support the expansion of dynamic learning environments that improve student learning through the effective use of information technology and teaching pedagogies.


  • Increase student engagement, learning and success through research, design and use of appropriate technology
  • Enable, support and expand faculty and staff innovation that supports improvements in student learning, retention and success
  • Use appropriate innovative technology to increase access to learning for students, faculty, staff, and community
  • Research, position and utilize technology to create effective solutions to higher education challenges (e.g., access, learning, security, customer service)
  • Research, plan and respond to increasing demand for specialized learning environments

Direction V: Maximizing Partnerships and Resources to Support Learning – Estrella Mountain will maximize existing partnerships and resources (capital and human), while continuing to pursue new opportunities to support learning.


  • Enhance planning and cultivate resource development in support of learning
  • Seek and nurture partnerships that further the vision, mission and core values of the College
  • Participate in sustainable practices that provide long-term resource savings and positively impact the community

Emergency Preparedness Plan

Since an emergency can occur at any time, it is important for Estrella Mountain Community College personnel to be fully prepared. The Emergency Operations Plan is designed to help in those cases when an emergency affects large portions of the College, or requires the assistance of outside agencies. In the unlikely event of a major catastrophe that involves the entire area, members of the campus community must be able to help themselves until assistance arrives. To ensure the safety of all involved and promote familiarity with the system, all campus emergencies are handled in a consistent manner.

All members of the President’s Cabinet have been trained in the basics of the Emergency Operations Plan to have maximum safety, efficiency and communication during a crisis or emergency. The College utilizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Incident Command System as part of Estrella Mountain’s comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan. Faculty, staff and students have been reassured through training, drills and campus communications that all preparations are necessary for their safety and well-being. Revisions and updates of the Emergency Operations Plan occur on a regular basis.