By Tamas Mondovics

A large group of supporters, faculty and staff gathered last month to celebrate a major step toward Hillsborough Community College (HCC) SouthShore Campus’ future success.

HCC officials were pleased to break ground on the facility’s new, state-of-the-art science and technology building located at 551 24th St. NE in Ruskin. The Ruskin campus—one of five locations in Hillsborough County—was built on a 100-year-old tomato field donated by the Dickman family.

Since its opening in 2008, HCC’s SouthShore Campus has grown to serve more than 6,500 students. During the 2013-14 school year, enrollment for this campus grew 7.3 percent.

According to HCC spokesperson Kimberly French, the two-story, 36,424 sq. ft. building will include nine laboratories, five prep labs, two computer classrooms, six traditional classrooms, four offices and a deans’ suite.

The construction team for the $9.8 million project includes architects Reynolds Smith and Hills (RS&H), civil engineer Stantec, MEP consultants Volt Air and construction manager Cutler Associates and is scheduled to be completed in May 2015, with classes beginning in the new building in fall 2015.

“Like the rest of the HCC SouthShore Campus, the new addition will be an LEED-certified green building,” French said.

HCC-SouthShore Campus President Dr. Allen Witt spoke highly of what has been accomplished. “Our six-year-old campus is thrilled with this exciting addition,” Witt said. “We pride ourselves as a STEM campus serving our local community with outstanding educational resources. This new science building will help us serve our students well into the future with the best technology and classroom space.”

Witt added that many students drive past other colleges just to attend HCC’s SouthShore campus, which he said was a clear testimony to its success. “The SouthShore Campus has steadily increased enrollment each year since its inception, as many classes have expanded into portable classrooms,” said Witt.

HCC president Kenneth Atwater also noted the growth giving credit to the hardworking staff. “The originally anticipated number of students was around 400,” Atwater said. “Ten years ago no one would have predicted what we are seeing here today.”

Hillsborough Community College serves more than 46,000 students annually at five campuses and three centers throughout Hillsborough County. HCC is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For additional information, visit

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