The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) reached a milestone in its history last week with the official opening of its new Multipurpose Center (MPC). The new multi-story building which will serve as the center for the system of support provided to ASCC students by the College’s Division of Student Services. Governor Lolo M. Moliga, the Board of Higher Education, and numerous local dignitaries joined the administration, faculty, staff and students of ASCC for the official dedication of the MPC, which took place on Tuesday, January 9th.
In addition to Governor Lolo, guests included former governor Togiola Tulafono, President of the Senate Palaie Gaoteote, Vice-Speaker of the House Tumolimoli Moliga on behalf of Speaker Savali Talavou Ale, Cabinet members, ASG Directors, CEOs, Presidents of other local institutions, Senators and Representatives of the Fono, Board of Higher Education Trustees, Department of the Interior representatives, and former members of the ASCC staff.
During her commemorative address, ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Makaiwi Pato traced the College’s vision of building the MPC back to 2004, during the tenure of former President the late Adele Satele Moali’itele Galea’i. The project became concretized with the groundbreaking in 2013. While ASCC has struggled with funding challenges, Dr. Pato explained, thanks to partnerships with the government and community, and internal commitment, the MPC has finally opened its doors.
As the initial 2004 concept gained momentum, plans were made to finance the construction of the MPC through Capital Improvement (CIP) funds. Both President Adele and her successor Dr. Seth Galea’i worked diligently to secure the funds to make the MPC a reality. Former Governor Togiola supported ASCC’s vision with the first round of CIP funding in 2008. Subsequent CIP awards followed in 2010 and 2012 totaling $3.4 million. The current administration under the leadership of Governor Lolo awarded CIP funds for 2013 and 2014 totaling $3.1 million. Dr. Pato also commended the current Board of Higher Education as well as the boards from 2004 to 2012 for their approval of the many phases of the project.
Dr. Pato gave honorable mention to a number of former ASCC employees who played key roles in the long process leading to the completion of the project. She thanked Bill Emmsley, Mikaele Etuale, John Ah Sue, Grace Tulafono, Dan Aga, Marie Alailima, and Irene Helsham for setting the groundwork for the MPC. Dr. Pato also recognized the partner government agencies who provided essential support, recognizing ASG Directors Keniseli Lafaele, Ameko Pato, Ali’itama Sotoa, Motusa Nua, Samana Ve’ave’a, Talauega Ale, Utu Abe Malai, Puleleite Tufele, and Faleosina Voight. For their partnership and teamwork, Dr. Pato thanked the CIP team of Lieutenant Governor Lemanu Mauga, Tauapa’i Laupola, Jerome Ielome, and Sandi Tonumaipe’a, as well as the DOI team of Mark Brown, Lydia Nomura and their staff.
Dr. Pato thanked Ben Lee and Janine Clifford of Clifford Planning and Architecture for their design of the MPC and guidance through the construction process, as well as local contractor Papali’I Laulii Alofa of Paramount Builders. For the food, gifts and entertainment at the ceremony itself, Dr. Pato expressed her appreciation to Land Grant Director Aufa’i Apulu Ropeti Areta, Alofia Afalava of the ASCC Foundation, Tafa Tupuola of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and Samoan Studies Institute Director Okenaisa Fauolo-Manila.
Governor Lolo cut the ceremonial ribbon to signal the beginning of the tour of the new building by all in attendance. The first floor of the building consists of a generously-sized auditorium on the “street” side, which features both ground-level and balcony seating. On the “mountain” side of the first floor is a lounge area intended for students, a tutorial center, and offices for the Veterans Affairs counselor, and the Student Government Association and their coordinator. The second floor features a number of conference rooms and seven offices that will be occupied by the Dean of Student Services Dr. Emilia Le’i, counselors and tutors.
On the day after the opening, the MPC was already in use to serve students registering for the spring 2018 semester. Students remarked on the how the new building offered more space and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the previous registration sites. “The new registration environment is much more pleasant,” said student Isu Pouesi, “and the new building seems like a place where you’d enjoy spending time.”