Students returning to Herkimer County Community College in August came back to a newly renovated cafeteria and to find several student service offices relocated to the college center.
Officials at the college said the changes were made to better serve students and to boost efficiency in those areas.
The cafeteria, in the Robert McLaughlin College Center, went through a $1 million renovation over the three months classes were not in session for the summer.
Renovations included new plumbing, electrical work, new floor tiles, new lighting and a bright, fresh coat of paint on the walls. An air conditioning unit was also installed.
“It’s really about the function and the flow, and to serve students better,” said Rebecca Ruffing, HCCC director of public relations.
Ruffing said Jamie Robinson, cafeteria manager, was involved with the renovation project.
“It’s more efficient,” said Kara Papa, cafeteria assistant manager. “Our first day back, the brightness of it seem to put everyone in a better mood.”
Papa noted now there is less of a need for cafeteria workers to go into the kitchen when serving students, such as when they need to fry an order on the grill since it is now located where students wait in line.
Selections in the cafeteria - which is staffed with American Food and Vending employees - include sandwiches and subs, salads, soups, a hot dish and “grab and go” items.
“One of our initiatives was we want this campus to have a healthy selection of food,” said HCCC Dean of Students Matthew Hawes.
Ruffing said funding for the renovations came through the state and through matching private funds raised through the HCCC Faculty Student Association.
When asked about the new cafeteria, two students standing in line for sandwiches Monday expressed their excitement.
“We love it,” said Megan Belanger, a sophomore, noting it feels wider and there are more options.
“Oh my God,” said Sarah Hadity. “It took us like a week to adjust to how amazing it is.”
Besides the cafeteria renovations, work at the campus over the summer included the relocation of 13 departments. This includes bringing six student service departments together in the college center. The admissions, financial aid, registrar’s office and bursar’s office, academic advisement and counseling centers were previously spread out across the campus.
“We’ve been talking about it for years,” said Hawes. “We finally said ‘Let’s just get it done.’”
With these student service offices located closer together, the staff, along with the students, have noticed improvements.
“By working closer together, they’re finding more efficiencies and a better way to help students,” said Ruffing.
Page 2 of 2 - Robert Palmieri, HCCC associate dean of enrollment management, said, “It’s better for everybody. You have students in one area. It’s good to be close together. There’s more teamwork with staff and students.”
Palmieri said, for example, when he needed paperwork from the bursar’s office for a student, he needed to walk over to the adjacent building. Now he only needs to walk down the hall.
Hawes said while he didn’t know the exact cost for moving the offices around, he said it was minimal. He said there were some minor renovations and they utilized some office furniture and equipment that was in storage to keep costs down. For example, he said the chairs set out in the academic advisement and counseling center were from storage.