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The Telegram
  • HCCC planning upgrade of facilities

  • As community colleges across the nation continue their quest to be competitive and appeal to students, Herkimer County Community College is making its own strides.

    The college plans a $1 million upgrade to its dining center and Alumni Hall in the Robert McLaughlin College Center. Officials anticipate the renovations will help with traffic flow, accommodate more students and add variety to the food selection.

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  • As community colleges across the nation continue their quest to be competitive and appeal to students, Herkimer County Community College is making its own strides.
    The college plans a $1 million upgrade to its dining center and Alumni Hall in the Robert McLaughlin College Center. Officials anticipate the renovations will help with traffic flow, accommodate more students and add variety to the food selection.
    Food service is just one of the many aspects community colleges must tweak as they evolve from the traditional, commuter-style schools. Another — on-campus housing — is becoming a major draw.
    At Broome Community College in Binghamton, Public Affairs Officer Rich David said they’re considering a number of factors as they plan construction next year on their first on-campus housing.
    “We’re going to need to make some changes when it comes to food service, campus life, safety and residential assistants,” he said.
    Norma Kent, senior vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges, said the number of campuses adding housing nationwide has risen in the last 10 years.
    Of the 1,133 community colleges in the country, 254 public and 62 independent campuses have housing, she said.
    Reasons for the increase range from becoming more competitive to accommodating an increase in the number of international students.
    Kent said providing a strong residential campus life benefits the school and students.
    “It’s an enhancement of the college experience,” she said.
    The dining center at HCCC has undergone only minor renovations since the college opened in the early 1970s. Enrollment then was about 1,100, and now it’s about 3,400, Director of Public Relations Rebecca Ruffing said.
    The college for the first time last year required those living on campus to enroll in a meal plan, said Matthew Hawes, the college’s dean of students, further increasing strain on the current facilities.
    Housing first appeared on campus in 2011. There now are three residence halls — College Hill, Campus Meadows and Reservoir Run — all apartment style.
    Freshman Joseph Shinn said he opted for on-campus housing at College Hill for the experience.
    “I feel like it’s a little community on campus,” the New York City native said. “You meet more people, you branch out more.”
    This type of experience provides a seamless transition to a four-year college, Hawes said.
    The college also recently implemented an out-of-county admissions grade requirement of 68 percent to raise the academic profile, Ruffing said.
    Mohawk Valley Community College recently did the same for those who desire to live on campus, said Matthew Snyder, director of marketing and communications.
    The college’s high school grade requirement is 72 percent.
    “This will enhance our overall student completion rates and reinforces the message that our students take academic excellence seriously,” he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - While campuses such as HCCC and MVCC have had on-campus housing, at Broome Community College, they’re just getting on board.
    David said the school will begin construction in August for a 312-bed housing complex.
    “What we find in many circumstances is that housing options on campus may determine, or may be one of the determining factors, on whether a student chooses to go to a respective institution,” he said. “Having dorms on campus is enhancing the student-life experience.”
    Snyder said MVCC was the first community college in New York to implement on-campus housing.
    In 1963, “MVCC had the state’s only full-fledged retailing program that attracted students from statewide,” he wrote in an email.
    He said the campus now has five residence halls that can accommodate 550 students.
    At Herkimer, Ruffing said the interest to bring in students from outside of the county has been there for some time to keep enrollment up. About 60 percent of its students are from the outside.
    Since 2004, the number of students living on campus has increased from 565 to 625, Ruffing said. The college halls can house 650 students.
    Freshman Amanda Malewski from Oneonta said she chose to go to Herkimer because of its Criminal Justice program.
    She said she likes living at Campus Meadows, because it’s a new experience.
    “It gets me ready for moving out officially from my house, as well as meeting new people,” she said.
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