Ventura County Community College trustees this week added their voices to a growing number of community groups supporting the construction of a new state university in Ventura County.
However, the five-member board steered clear of endorsing the Taylor Ranch site in Ventura, declining to take a stand on the proposed site until an environmental impact report is completed.
"We thought it was premature for us to take a vote on that specific site without having the second EIR in hand, but we do want to lend our support to locating a campus in the county," said board President Gregory Kampf, after trustees voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a new Cal State campus.
In sidestepping the issue of location, the board followed the lead of several other county organizations, including the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, who have lent their support to a university, but stopped short of endorsing the 464-acre Taylor Ranch site located on a bluff in West Ventura.
Last month California State University Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds stated that no Cal State campus will be built in the county except at Taylor Ranch and asked for a show of public support for the Taylor Ranch site by Feb. 1. Without that support, said Reynolds, the state will scrap plans to conduct a full environmental impact report at Taylor Ranch and take its resources to counties that would welcome the university.
Joyce Kennedy, director of the Ventura campus of Cal State Northridge, called the board's decision "a positive commitment". However, Kennedy, one of 11 speakers who spoke in favor of a university at Tuesday night's meeting, said she was concerned that the lack of support for Taylor Ranch could send the university elsewhere.
Kennedy said it is unlikely that Cal State officials would proceed with plans if an environmental report shows the Taylor Ranch site seriously flawed.
"If there are fatal flaws in the site, I know the university system wouldn't want it," said Kennedy, "but by getting hung up over a few hundred acres, my concern is that we are tripping over a molehill.
"We have to realize that there are other counties in the state that are lobbying for additional public education, either a UC campus or a Cal State campus," she added. "My concern is that Ventura County is the largest county in the state without one, and that's rather frightening."
The college board's resolution will be sent to the California State University Board of Governors.