Long Beach Community College District Trustee Roberto Uranga speaks at the LBCC Pacific Coast campus during the grand opening of two buildings. This is the
Long Beach Community College District Trustee Roberto Uranga speaks at the LBCC Pacific Coast campus during the grand opening of two buildings. This is the latest results from the Measure E bond to modernize the campuses of Long Beach City College. Buildings DD and EE have been completely renovated to better support instructional technology, campus safety and environmental responsibilities. (Brittany Murray / Staff Photographer)

Not everyone at Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony was excited about a multimillion-dollar renovation of two Long Beach City College buildings.

Dozens of students stood in protest, some wearing black tape over their mouths, voicing anger and frustration over the college's elimination of 11 programs in January.

Rose Vance enrolled at LBCC as an aviation student, but said she found out a day before spring classes began - after she had already purchased her books - that the program was cut.

"It's devastating," she said. "Not only that they cut the program, but that we found out a day before we were supposed to start our classes. I enrolled in LBCC for this program. Now what? This school is wastefully spending money while other students, who are not in the 'popular' programs, are being left behind."

The protest came as the college marked the completion of the first phase of a two-phase project to modernize the campus. The $47 million project is paid for through bonds and state funding slated for capital improvements; the money could not have been used to keep classes or programs, said Mark Taylor, a spokesman for the college.

The project at LBCC is intended to modernize the main academic buildings at the college's Pacific Coast Campus, located at Pacific Coast Highway and Orange Avenue.

The first phase, buildings DD and EE, is now complete, and the updates are vast. Both buildings have been completely renovated to better support instructional technology, campus safety and environmental responsibilities.

Long Beach City College President Eloy Oakley said the mission of the college is to provide the "education and training people need to access great jobs and help our local economy grow."

"The two modernized facilities (will) add critical new capacities to this effort at the Pacific Coast Campus," he told the audience. "The facilities we are building - with the help of all of you - are central to our efforts to improve our students' success."

Some of the new features of the new buildings include multi-use laboratories, "smart" classrooms, lecture halls, an expanded student success center, and a new campus bookstore and student union.

The second phase of the project, which includes buildings AA and BB, is underway and scheduled to be completed in two years.

Oakley said the renovated buildings will ensure that the community has the "facilities it needs to meet the demands of the economy and to secure a better future for us."

"We do all this because of a simple belief that where one starts out in life should not determine or limit where one can go in this life," he said.

However, college officials have been criticized for not considering a broader range of future careers after the Board of Trustees voted in January to eliminate several trade classes. Those classes included auto body technology, aviation maintenance, audio production, interior design, welding, automotive technology, real estate, photography, air conditioning/refrigeration/heating, diesel mechanics and carpentry.

Vance said there were nearly 100 students registered for the aviation program, students that, much like her, purchased their books and had their schedules set before receiving an email from the school stating the program would be canceled.

Javier Rivera, chairman of the Construction Trades Department, said his department lost six of its nine programs - only architecture, electronics and sheet metal remain. He added that the demand for construction-related jobs is projected to rise 17 percent by 2014, such as for the building of a new bridge connecting downtown to the Port of Long Beach.

"We had dozens of students preparing for jobs on the Gerald Desmond Bridge project, but now they will miss out on valuable training and education, and for some, that might mean missing out on a job, a career," Rivera said.

kelsey.duckett@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2128, Twitter.com/KelseyDuckett