College of the Desert hires PR firm, proceeds with feasibility study for Palm Springs campus

·2 min read
Conceptual designs for the Palm Springs campus of College of the Desert were unveiled during Modernism Week 2020. The campus is planned to open in 2025.
Conceptual designs for the Palm Springs campus of College of the Desert were unveiled during Modernism Week 2020. The campus is planned to open in 2025.

Between multiple presentations at Friday's board meeting about bond projects, the College of the Desert Board of Trustees approved contracts for a public relations firm and an architectural planning firm for work on the planned Palm Springs campus.

The $24,000 contract with HR Advantage, a public relations firm based in Palm Desert, is for a consultant to provide COD leadership with a "strategic consulting plan” aimed to "strengthen resilience, enhance public perception and align messaging opportunities that directly impact College of the Desert.”

The board also approved a $47,500 contract with Cambridge West Partnership, an education planning company based in Southern California, to update “feasibility data” and develop an updated timeline for the Palm Springs mall property.

In December, Superintendent/President Martha Garcia told Palm Springs city officials that plans for the Palm Springs campus would be on hold until summer 2022 after the college completed a feasibility study, including a "needs assessment," for the campus.

Later, Garcia backtracked on her assertion that a needs assessment for the Palm Springs campus had never been done, citing her discovery of a 2016 document that included part of a feasibility study. She said she had not seen the document earlier although it had been publicly available on the college's own website.

Garcia blamed staff for the oversight.

In light of that document, Garcia pulled a $49,000 contract with Cambridge West Partnership from the board's December meeting.

It is unclear why the contract returned to the agenda in January.

The contracts were approved on the board's consent agenda, meaning trustees voted on them along with a group of other actions that did not require discussion beforehand.

The board also approved two other contracts with Cambridge West Partnership to help the college update its five-year construction plan and to prepare a "total cost of ownership" report that will help the college analyze expenditures related to all its properties.

Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Reach him at jonathan.horwitz@desertsun.com or @Writes_Jonathan.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: College of the Desert hires PR firm, proceeds with feasibility study for Palm Springs campus