BCTC Opens Former Eastern State Building for Student Services

What was once the laundry room at Eastern State Hospital has been remodeled and reopened as a one-stop-shop for Bluegrass Community and Technical College students.

Dubbed “The Den,” BCTC’s Newtown campus facility includes a new bookstore, meeting rooms, and offices for student services, including admissions, testing, and financial aid. Half of the building is new construction, while the other half is the renovated hospital building.

The building brings together old and new to create a hub for students, Kentucky Community and Technical College System Chancellor Kris Williams said at the building’s grand opening Thursday.

“The Den is such a beautiful fusion of old and new: the history and architecture of the past with the real need to support student learning in the future,” Williams said.

The building includes several office spaces for various student services. Prospective students can meet with admissions counselors, and current students can meet with counselors at new offices. The building also has gathering spaces for students, as well as a testing center and a bookstore.

BCTC President Koffi Akakpo said the building will help students access more services on one campus, rather than having to travel to multiple locations.

“It’s a good thing for students,” Akakpo said. “It makes their trip easier. It removes that barrier and it makes us efficient.

The Eastern State Hospital building was built in 1906 and housed the mental hospital’s laundry services until the late 1980s, according to the BCTC. In a land swap announced in 2008, the hospital moved to the University of Kentucky’s Coldstream research campus and BCTC began moving from its Cooper campus in the UK to the former hospital location.

“Many of our students are first generation or single parents. There are people who may have been out of the workforce or who have just lost their jobs and need to plan for the future. There are students who have just graduated from high school,” Williams said. “Every obstacle you can remove from their path brings them that much closer to success.”

Edith Cruz-Rodriguez, a first-generation student who graduated from BCTC in May, said the new building will impact future generations who will attend BCTC.

“It won’t be just me, and it won’t be just us, it will be future generations,” Cruz-Rodriguez said. “Our students are the future, and that’s what I envisioned here. That’s what The Den stands for.

Monica Kast covers higher education for the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com. Previously, she covered higher education in Tennessee for the Knoxville News Sentinel. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky, and graduated from Western Kentucky University.
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