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Ventura College Project : Work to Start on Tutorial Center

December 08, 1988|WILLIAM DIEPENBROCK | Times Staff Writer

Ventura College officials Friday will launch the construction of a campus tutorial and testing center aimed at placing students in more appropriate courses and stemming the school's dropout rate.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the 4,800-square-foot Guthrie Hall of Achievement, an octagonal flagstone and stucco structure, will mark the beginning of work on what college officials consider the school's most pressing need. The Hall is to be completed in August.

The $400,000 building has been named in honor of the family of Mary Guthrie, 81, who pledged her $1.2-million estate to the school in February. A former dean and history instructor at Ventura College, Guthrie initiated her gift with a $100,000 donation.

Guthrie is to be on hand for the 11:30 a.m. ground breaking, college officials said.

The center is the first effort of the Ventura College Foundation, a fund-raising organization created in 1983.

"It seemed to be the greatest need at the moment," Foundation Director Joe Iantorano said. "The college had been running a testing and tutoring program, but it's been operating in very crowded conditions in the library. By taking this project on and building a facility for testing and tutoring, we are going to loosen up some room in the library."

Placement Tests

Iantorano said the center is part of a larger community college system program, called the Matriculation Plan, designed to improve the college's graduation rate.

About 15% of the student body dropped out this fall between the fourth and 11th week of the 20-week semester, said Vice President of Student Services John Woolley, who added that many reasons for dropping out are unrelated to course difficulty.

The program will expand the role of placement tests used by community colleges to determine a student's standing in English or mathematics. Similar exams would be given to place students in other courses correctly, according to their skill levels, Woolley said.

For example, a student with poor reading skills would not be placed in an advanced philosophy course--an error that can lead to dropping out, Ventura College spokeswoman Amy Madsen said.

The foundation has collected $350,000 for the building with the aid of Guthrie and other donors. The remaining $50,000 will be raised through engraving bricks for the patio and walkway areas around the building with the names of donors who give each $25, foundation officials said.

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