Monday, February 22, 2010

The "Community's College"

Community colleges around the country often refer to themselves as their “community’s college” – MVCC is no different. However, many community colleges also often refer to themselves as “the best kept secret in town.” In contrast, I’ve never heard that statement in reference to MVCC and that is something special to me. Although we may not be the best kept secret around (what do you think it is?), most people only understand the part of MVCC with which they interact and remain unaware of the full scope and magnitude of our programs and services.

Credit Programs
For the past 64 years, MVCC has offered a comprehensive array of career programs that help students – young and old – to develop skills for the workplace. From Accounting to Welding and most things in between, students can find their career of choice here. Our transfer programs continue to expand – whether it’s creating new agreements with the likes of Cornell or Syracuse or continuing long-established agreements like we have in engineering, as three of our students were recently recognized by the Mohawk Valley Engineer’s Executive Council for winning scholarships and competitions at Clarkson and RPI.

College Prep and Specialized Training Programs
Through the Center for Corporate and Community Education (CCED) at MVCC, nearly 2,000 individuals received some form of specialized training last year through our partnerships with more than 50 local companies - much of this training was delivered on-site at the workplace. In addition, college-prep courses are offered by many of our academic centers for those students who need to complete an English or Math sequence of courses to prepare for college-level work. Similarly, the number of English language learners continues to grow in this community and the College is responding with quality English as a Second Language courses, as years ago, MVCC was the first to offer an ESL Certificate program in the state.

Community Education
Perhaps the best kept secret about the College is that we serve about two-thirds as many students in our non-credit courses as we do in our credit courses. More than 1,000 individuals enroll in our swim courses and thousands more enroll in our wellness and community education offerings – from aerobics to yoga and finances to social media. In addition, we expect more than 200 area youth to explore their future career choices in our third summer of career camps, as part of our summer College for Kids program.

Creative partnerships are one of the five strategic priorities in our Strategic Plan at MVCC and they have produced some wonderful results. On our Utica Campus, the Mohawk Valley Police Academy has been training cohorts of future police officers for communities both locally and regionally for close to forty years and the ARC of Oneida and Lewis Counties operates the CollegeWorks program. At our Rome Campus, SUNY-Canton runs their Dental Hygiene program and Sage Trucking runs a tractor-trailer driving school. CCED takes the lead in many of our community partnerships, some of which receive special funding, that include offering employability skills and introductory human services classes on site at Johnson Park; partnering with Mohawk Valley Community Action to deliver training for soon-to-be-released inmates at local correctional facilities; partnering with the Veteran’s Center in Utica to renovate parts of the former YMCA to create an Internet Café and housing for veterans; partnering with Workforce Investment Board and Working Solutions to secure funding and provide services for unemployed and underemployed individuals seeking career changes; and the City of Rome to develop incubator space for small business development. The list of partnerships continues to grow, but I’ll stop here and save some for another post.

As the winter sun reveals itself on this beautiful morning, I could continuing writing (I haven’t even touched on our successful athletic programs, our amazing cultural series, exciting partnership with Kien Giang Community College in Vietnam, community contributions of TeamMVCC, and so many other special pieces to the MV puzzle.) but I’d be interested in what you think about what truly makes us our “community’s college.” You can share your thoughts with me at presblog@mvcc.edu.