Levan entry divided into two

Maryann Kopp

When Dr. Norman Levan donated $5.7 million to Bakersfield College, he had some very specific purposes in mind concerning how the money would be distributed.
The breakdown, according to the BC Foundation’s new donor relations coordinator, Hannah Egland, went as follows: $200,000 toward essay scholarships, $1 million for academic scholarships, $2 million would go toward the construction of the new Levan Center, $1.5 million for funds to operate the Levan Center, and $1 million would create the Levan Institute.
While the contribution was very substantial and the allotments seemingly precise, not too much appears well known as far as what the purpose of the Levan Center and Levan Institute are and what significance they hold for BC students.
“The Levan Institute and the Levan Center are separate things,” explained Egland.
The Levan Center (the full name being the Levan Center for the Humanities) has a purpose that, while still connected to the Levan Institute, sets the two apart.
“Dr. Levan has a great passion for the humanities,” said Mike Stepanovich, the executive director for the BC Foundation as well as an instructor for some of the Levan Institute’s classes. “His vision for the center is to bring in scholars and speakers to BC as he values the humanities to be one of the most important elements in becoming a well-rounded person.”
The Levan Center has hosted what is known as the Levan Center Faculty Colloquium and has honored BC faculty through grants, thus making the recipients “Levan Scholars.”
The Levan Institute (or the the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning) is a different program, said Egland and Stepanovich, that encourages citizens 55 years of age or older to participate although it is not limited to that age entirely. Considering that two of the courses are offered through BC as actual classes, it seems that only admitting certain ages wouldn’t be sensible.
There are a total of 27 classes available with 14 subjects ranging from philosophy and photography to wine tasting and horseback riding.
According to the Levan Institute’s director, Robert Allison, there are 25 classes that were “designed solely for the Levan Institute” and two classes that are joint-offered through BC and are worth one unit.
“Including the two joint-offered classes, we currently have 190 students enrolled,” said Allison, this being the first semester such classes have been offered.
The task of finding different instructors was Allison’s, and he didn’t have to try very many different avenues to find the right people.
“Most, with only a few exceptions, are BC instructors I asked directly,” Allison said. “They graciously accepted my request to do so.”
He asked department chairs for recommendations as well as friends and colleagues, but since he has been at BC since 1963, he knew most of the people he wanted to ask anyway.
Success of the courses have been varying, Egland pointed out, as they had both wine classes full with waiting lists but had to cut out a gardening class for lack of enrollment. That has not slowed down the Levan Institute from preparing for the spring semester, which they are currently doing.
The new Levan Center will be located at B18 of the Business Building at BC, which includes expanding the respective area out toward Panorama Drive.