College of Marin Marks Milestone on $116M Student Center

More than 200 College of Marin students, staff and community members gathered this week to salute a key stage of construction on a new $116 million student center.

The Dr. David Wain Coon Center for Student Success, under construction since fall, is expected to become the central hub of the Kentfield campus. It is the last and most expansive project financed by the $265 million Measure B bond issue approved by Marin voters in June 2016.

“I wouldn’t have missed this day for the world,” said former COM president David Wain Coon, who retired in January after 13 years as head of the institution. “There’s the significance of the building itself, and then the board’s decision to actually attach my name to it, based on my time here.”

During his tenure, Coon presided over a series of major Measure B projects that reshaped and transformed both the Kentfield campus and the Indian Valley campus in Novato.

“I’m so honored and humbled that the board decided to do this,” he said of being selected as the building’s namesake.

Current president Jonathan Eldridge said the new three-story, 78,000-square-foot building will be the center of student life, where pupils can feel comfortable studying, congregating and connecting with classmates, faculty and staff.

“This is the capstone to our Measure B bond program,” Eldridge said.

“It really will be the living room of the Kentfield campus,” he said. “It’s the heart of the campus and will house the library and so many educational support functions.”

“Students will be able to use this as a landing place from early in the morning to the evening,” Eldridge said. A small cafe also will be part of the new structure, Eldridge said.

The student success center is scheduled for completion in fall 2025, with occupancy set for Jan. 1, 2026, according to college spokesperson Nicole Cruz.

Construction costs are estimated at $82.5 million out of the total $116 million project price tag. Alten Construction of Richmond is the general contractor. Gilbane Construction Management is the project manager.

The highlight of Tuesday’s ceremony came as construction workers hoisted one of the last steel girders that will make up the internal skeleton of the building. The installation was accompanied by cheers from the crowd, dozens of whom had earlier signed their names on the steel beam in fluorescent permanent marker.

“I hope there’s a hole in the ceiling in the new building so that you can look up and see everybody’s names,” said Richard Torney, a Kentfield resident and a former COM student.

Torney, who is active with the Kentfield-Greenbrae Historical Society, said local history is his hobby and “College of Marin is very much a part of it,” he said.

Torney said he hopes to participate in some way in the college’s 100-year anniversary in 2026. Preparations are already under way for the centennial observance.

In the crowd Tuesday were numerous local officials, including members of the college’s board of trustees.

“I’ve been on the board since 2009,” said trustee Diana Conti. “This building is a dream come true for me.”

The building “really reflects the priorities of the college to do everything they can to increase student success,” she said. “It’s going to be so beautiful.

“It’s going to open up the campus and tie it all together,” Conti said. “I just can’t wait for it to be done.”

John Carroll, Marin superintendent of schools, said he attended College of Marin for two years, transferring to California Polytechnic State University in 1984 to complete his bachelor’s degree.

“It’s a wonderful school with great values,” Carroll said of COM. “It’s my favorite college.”

David Schnee, a principal consulting architect on the project, said he was personally gratified to see the building taking shape.

“My son took classes here at COM five or six years ago, ” said Schnee, a Marin resident who said his son would be graduating in a few weeks from DePaul University in Chicago.

“This is where he really learned to love learning,” he said.