Kevin Walthers

Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers is a competitor in the Dance Lompoc event.

When you think of a college campus, you probably visualize students in classrooms working on equations, performing chemistry experiments or working in the welding lab.

We do all of those things and more every day on the Allan Hancock College campus, but our role is more than giving students work skills. We are building a learning community.

A learning community is one that takes learned skills and applies them in new and creative ways. It’s also a community that engages in ongoing learning in many ways. We are proud to serve North County in ways that enrich our shared understanding and support our common intellectual growth.

As the prime venue for higher education in North County, we understand our responsibility to build a college-going culture. You see this through our Bulldog Bound outreach events, but also through specific academic programs. PCPA’s outreach show, “The Purple Marble,” will perform in dozens of K-8 schools this year.

Written at the age of 8 by local author Alyssa B. Antoci and adapted for the stage by Leo Cortez, “The Purple Marble” provides a compelling anti-bullying message.

Similar to PCPA, our other programs provide outreach to local schools. Our dance program’s annual performances of Dance Spectrum, Dimensions in Dance and Folklorico concert include special shows for hundreds of school-age students.

Our Makerspace partnership combines the talents of AHC, the Discovery Museum and the Santa Maria Library.

The college will host Friday Night Science on May 4. This is one of our premiere family events, and we are making this year’s the biggest yet. In addition to the annual array of cool experiments, explosions and hands-on learning opportunities, we will be hosting Mars Week to celebrate the first-ever interplanetary launch from Vandenberg AFB. NASA and JPL will participate in special events on campus and provide a special interplanetary exhibit.

Our outreach is not just for the kids. This year, we have hosted events in partnership with the League of Women Voters to discuss the role of the media in society. The Fake News Forum featured a non-partisan group of experts to discuss the importance of asking critical questions when forming opinions. As we opened the Watson Intelligence, our faculty put together a forum to discuss the moral, social and artistic issues surrounding artificial intelligence and the rapid advance of technology in our daily lives.

Our ability to host important discussions of difficult issues in a collegial environment is a hallmark of Hancock College. We strive to bring to our communities the type of opportunities that would normally be found only in larger cities or at large universities.

For those of you who join us for these events, we are grateful for your participation. If you haven’t joined us recently, I encourage you to come back to campus. We are the community’s college and we are a better college when we are teaching beyond the campus.

Kevin G. Walthers is superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College. For more information about Friday Night Science, please visit www.hancockcollege.edu/fridaynightscience .

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