Wave Staff Report
CULVER CITY — Former U.S. Rep. Diane E. Watson smiled broadly as she cut the blue and gold ribbon in front of a new campus building at West Los Angeles College that bears her name.
The Watson Center features a 1,600-square-foot sound stage and trade workshops that house the college’s film and television production crafts program. Program co-director Kevin Considine described the origin and goals of the program while proudly mentioning that West L.A. College students and alumni are working and interning on major productions all over Hollywood including the current Star Wars projects.
College President James M. Limbaugh also spoke at the ceremony.
“In 2008, two years before she retired, Congresswoman Watson went to bat for West L.A. College and went to bat in a big way securing two grants totaling $2.5 million for the campus to drive job training in the entertainment industry trades,” Limbaugh said. “Not only did this help facilitate Hollywood becoming a permanent, institutionalized program housed on our campus, it also was the seed money, along with voter-approved bond funds that made this amazing facility possible.”
Watson was serving as chair of the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus at the time.
“Looking at this facility — this professional level sound stage and trade shops” said Watson, “seeing the diverse student body and hearing all of the positive reports about the program and the success of the alumni moves me, I am honored to have contributed to the success of the program and to have this center bear my name.”
Watson served 20 years in the state Senate before being elected to Congress in 2001 to replace Rep. Julian Dixon, who died in office. She served in that capacity for 10 years.
Jacqueline Hamilton and Shetarrah Byfield, representing U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and Assemblyman Isaac Bryan presented proclamations congratulating the college and praising Watson. Other speakers included Los Angeles Community College District Trustee Gabriel Buelna, LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez and LACCD Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Executive Rueben Smith.
A tribute to professor Laura Peterson was also part of the program. Peterson was a co-founder of the film and television production program and a force in the growth and success of the program as well as the realization of the Watson Center. Peterson died several weeks before the facility opened.
West Los Angeles College offers career certificates and associate degrees as well as paths to transfer to competitive universities. Students can enroll full-time or part-time, in-person or in the college’s award-winning online program.
Recently, West L.A. College was awarded the prestigious Aspen Prize for being one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation.