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Posted on Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Washtenaw Community College extends pilot classroom lease agreement with the University of Michigan

By James Dickson

After a successful pilot run leasing classroom space from the University of Michigan in the fall, Washtenaw Community College has extended its lease through the winter semester.

The lease runs from Jan. 10 through May 2 and affords the community college the use of four classrooms and one computer lab at Mason Hall for night classes. If the arrangement continues to work for both parties, the lease could be extended further.

WCC Angell Hall.jpg

Ann Arbor-based Washtenaw Community College students won't have to go far this winter, as WCC has extended its classroom space lease with the University of Michigan. This affects some 150 students in 12 courses.

File photo

WCC will offer 11 courses at Mason Hall in the winter, ranging from basic accounting to a class on "Drugs, Society and Human Behavior." It offered nine courses at Mason Hall in the fall. There were plans for a 12th class, but Math 160, Basic Statistics, failed to enroll the necessary 12-15 students, said WCC spokeswoman Janet Hawkins.

Some 150 students from Washtenaw will be taking night classes at Mason Hall this winter, up from 92 in the fall.

The community college's move into downtown Ann Arbor came after it learned about 10 percent of its student body lives within a mile of downtown Ann Arbor, WCC President Larry Whitworth explained before the fall lease went into effect.

WCC had been seeking a downtown presence for some time. It already offered off-site courses in Dexter and Brighton, and its campus serves the Ypsilanti market well. The move to Ann Arbor was meant to offer greater convenience for students or prospective students in the most populous part of the county.

Jim Egan, dean of Washtenaw Community College, said the community college is looking to enroll 200 to 300 students for its Mason Hall classes each term. For the time being, the lease is still in the pilot phase, and it will be evaluated by both institutions over the summer.

The pilot has gone well from the university's perspective, said U-M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

U-M staffers, including Fitzgerald, who took an intro to statistics course, "really appreciated the proximity" of the WCC classes to the downtown area, he said. 

Diana Sepac, a WCC staffer who has worked closely with the University of Michigan on the lease, agreed. She said the U-M support team has been "exceptionally professional" in every regard, going above and beyond to respond to WCC's needs.

"We're developing a very strong relationship," she said.

Financial terms of the lease were not readily available because the contract is still being finalized, Sepac said.

WCC's deadline for admission as a new or readmitting student is Jan. 3, Hawkins said. The last day to register is Jan. 6, and the winter term starts Jan. 10. The classes offered at Mason Hall this winter are:

ACC 111 - Principles of Accounting I
CIS 110 - Introduction to Computer Information Systems
COM 101 - Fundamentals of Speaking
ENG 111 - Composition I
ENG 226 - Composition II
PLS 112 - Introduction to American Government
PSY 100 - Introduction to Psychology
PSY 240 - Drugs, Society and Human Behavior

James David Dickson can be reached at



Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

ERMG said: 3) WCC maxed out its classroom space and had to turn away thousands of students. To the best of my knowledge, WCC has neither capped its enrollment nor turned away students. Certain programs, like nursing, have a wait list but students are not turned away for other classes while they wait for entry into the program of their choice. Recently, Wayne County Community College capped its enrollment. I think it is the first Michigan community college to do so.

Bob Martel

Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

Sounds like a good idea that is finding some traction. This is a win win for everyone since the U gets a little money and some good PR, WCC get space at a much lower cost than building it or leasing it full time, the students get to pick from a different and presumably more convenient location (as no one is forcing them to go there,) and even the naysayers get something else to gripe about! What's not to like? Merry Christmas all!

Dog Guy

Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

What a great win-win-win deal! Smart money says U of M will soon cancel.


Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

One of the big advantages of WCC is NOT having to go into Ann Arbor. I hope that doesn't change.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 25, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

how much do "We the people of Washtenaw County" pay "We the people of the State of Michigan" for the use of our classrooms?