Monday, March 1, 2010

A Multi-Campus College

All the other community colleges where I’ve worked have multiple campuses. The fact that MVCC has always had multiple campuses appealed to me from the very beginning. However, my understanding of MVCC history is that the multi-campus past of the College has not always been straight-forward or easy, but the present may provide a clearer path for the future.

Soon after the College was founded in 1946, two campuses were in operation – one at the former country day school in New Hartford (for the business and retail programs) and the State Street center (for the engineering and technical programs). By 1953, the business activity in Rome and the emergence of the Air Force Base helped prompt the opening of the Rome Campus. 1960 brought the establishment of the current campus in Utica that combined the two existing sites. Despite being in operation for more than 50 years, the last few years has seen a number of questions surrounding the Rome Campus. A SUNY study group spent a year examining the options associated with the future of the Rome Campus. Their recommendations led to the creation of the Rome Campus Commission – a group of dedicated community volunteers and key MVCC staff members.

Over the last two years, the recommendations of the Rome Campus Commission have helped to accelerate incredible results that were already underway. Overall, the number of course sections offered has increased 13% and credit hour enrollment has increased 43% between 2004 and 2009 and that trend continues this year. Our creative partnerships at the Rome Campus are thriving with Sage Trucking and the tractor-trailer training school, SUNY-Canton and the Dental Hygiene program and Rome Memorial Hospital supporting our strong nursing program offerings there. In addition, student activities are on the rise in Rome with a significant increase in the number of events and attendees, as well as expanded Cultural Series offerings.

About 14% of all student credit hours this semester come from the Rome Campus and 74% from the Utica Campus (the remainder come from Online offerings and dual credit partnerships with local high schools). While less than 1/5 of all enrollment, the central geographic presence in Oneida County and the close proximity to the Griffiss Business & Technology Park cannot be understated in terms of the importance of the Rome Campus. Our current master planning process is assisting our collective thinking with regard to forwarding the notion of MVCC as one college with two campuses (or more when we think of a virtual, online campus, but that’s for another post). Whatever the past may be, our current perceptions are greatly influenced – sometimes good and others not so good. Looking to the future, students must be the center of our thinking – the community and our students need more than a narrow mindset of Utica vs. Rome or vice versa. Dated arguments rooted in parochial notions fail to demonstrate a commitment to excellence and a spirit of service from every angle. Regardless of where students attend classes at MVCC, Rome, Utica, or Online, they’re all MVCC students and should receive the same high level student experience.

If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.