Success Coach Model Being Piloted at GCC this Spring, Board of Trustees Hear

Batavia, New York — While construction workers brave the wintery outdoor elements as they build Genesee Community College’s new Student Success Center, a group of seven new success coaches, who will be among the new occupants of the space this summer, have been immersed in extensive cross-training in five different functional areas, the Board of Trustees learned at last Monday evening’s monthly meeting. Dr. Shelitha W. Williams, GCC’s associate vice president for Student Success, reported that as the new Student Success Center is taking shape, her new staff of success coaches is piloting the College’s new student services division in the existing space on the second floor of the Batavia Campus in area C200.


Genesee Community College is introducing a new student success coaching model to its campus community this spring semester. It will provide efficient enrollment and student services through a new level of intentional engagement that will foster students’ academic and personal success. College officials anticipate the program could become a model for the nation in helping students achieve success and complete their degrees. The team of professionally trained success coaches will be assigned students in areas of targeted academic interest and demographic populations. They will follow their students from the first stages of admissions, through advisement, enrollment and registration, financial aid, and also assist with student accounts right through to graduation and commencement.


“Efficient enrollment and student services will be conducted through personalized, one-on-one meetings engaging students proactively along their academic journey,” Dr. Williams said. “The new coaches come with an impressive level of diverse experience, and they are cross-trained to provide our students with the guidance they need for their individual success.”


Brief highlights about GCC’s new success coaches include:

  • Lourdes Abaunza: Born in Nicaragua and fluent in Spanish, Lourdes is a GCC alumnus and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the SUNY College at Brockport before starting her GCC tenure in the Business Office in 2012.  
  • Tarry Brockel: A GCC alumnus and a paralegal who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies from SUNY Canton, Tarry was also a town justice clerk before coming to GCC in 2006.
  • Debbie Erion: Originally a GCC Lima Campus Center associate, Deb is extensively involved with the Lima Crossroads community and worked for the Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District.
  • Becky Michalak: Also a GCC alumnus, Becky’s Associate degree in Business Administration was then applied to her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management from Keuka College, as well as her six year tenure in GCC’s Financial Aid Office.
  • Sammy Naji: Sammy brings a diverse background including being a teacher’s assistant, a legal processor and a customer service agent with several major banks before starting as an academic advisor at GCC in 2013. He earned his Bachelor’s degree at SUNY Buffalo in Sociology and his Master’s in Student Personnel Administration from UB. 
  • Diane Palmer: This year marks Diane’s 10-year anniversary with GCC, working at both the Batavia Campus and Albion Campus Center as an academic advisor and as an adjunct history teacher. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Houghton College and her Master’s in History from the SUNY College at Brockport.
  • Carrie Sputore: With multiple professional affiliations, Carrie brings a wealth of experience including serving as GCC’s international admissions specialist for 11 years and representing GCC in Rochester Area College Admissions. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from the University of Georgia, and a Master’s in Kinesiology/Physical Education from Western Illinois University.    

Together, the new team of success coaches are already forming cross-campus partnerships, and developing proactive communication plans to help students be prepared for their academic challenges—from mapping out their course schedules to meeting important deadlines, and accessing co-curricular options and GCC’s extensive offering of activities outside of classes.

Anyone interested in discussing their academic aspirations can visit a success coach by calling 585-345-6805. GCC’s 12-week session of courses for the spring 2017 semester begins February 13.


In other business, the Board of Trustees:

  • Approved the academic program revisions to four programs following the College’s continuous assessment of curriculum to address both the State University of New York (SUNY) seamless transfer initiative and the developments in related industries.Changes to the following four programs were approved:
    • Course content in Computerized Drafting and Design, AAS will include a new course, Commercial Building Design with REVIT (EGR215), adjusting the number of credit hours for Engineering Drawing 1 and 2 (EGR101/EGR102) and eliminating Engineering Design Graphics (EGR106).
    • With little or no existing SUNY transfer opportunities that align with GCC’s Computer Information Systems, AS, the program will be revised to become an AAS (Associate in Applied Science) degree. Included in the changes will be adding Web Scripting (CIS215) to the curriculum.
    • In GCC’s Fashion Business program, curriculum changes to the Event Planning and E-Commerce Concentrations will allow students to enroll in New Communication Technologies (COM120) coursework that specifically addresses the advances and new opportunities within social media.
    • Proposed changes to the Respiratory Care, AAS program include separating lectures and labs into distinct courses while not changing the course content or overall credit hour values. As Dr. Kathleen Schiefen, provost/executive vice president for Academic Affairs explained to the Trustees, the “unbundling” of lecture and labs helps track teaching and learning initiatives and creates a more meaningful audit trail. This not only enables improved course and laboratory scheduling, but also simplifies the payroll process for faculty.
  • Approved the creation of a new Fashion Design Certificate. As a one-year program, it will provide students with the basic principles of fashion design and sewing fundamentals while providing the business acumen to develop an entrepreneurial company or service in the fashion industry. Upon completing the course, students will have earned 30 college credits focusing on just the core curriculum in the Fashion Design program, including but not limited to Fashion Trends and Design (FBM102), Apparel Construction Fundamentals (FBM120), Fashion Industry Technologies (FBM210), Fashion Show Production (FBM220) and Professional Sales and Entrepreneurship (BUS201/225). The Board of Trustees were also reminded that the 36th annual Fashion Show is scheduled April 29, 2017 with the theme “Elysium,” a greek word that implies paradise or a state of perfect happiness.
  • Received the generous donation of numerous formal gowns and dresses of assorted sizes, styles and designers to be used by GCC’s Fashion Design students in their efforts to create garments for both classroom projects and the College’s annual Fashion Show. The donation was made by Ms. Mary Anne Carr of M.A. Carr Bridal Shop in Orchard Park, NY and is valued at approximately $29,237.
  • Approved the renewal of continuing appointments for the following GCC employees: Elise Banfield, associate professor of Psychology, (Rochester); Katherine Brown, Technical Specialist, Financial Aid, (Batavia); James Bucki, director of Information Technology programs/assistant professor, (West Seneca); Marina Cappellino, associate professor for Computer Systems and Technology, (Arcade); Amy Conley, associate professor of Accounting, (Middleport); Cheryl Corke, professor of Accounting, (Rochester); Michael Crittenden, professor of Physics, (Batavia); Mary Jo Dumuhosky, technical assistant, Testing Center, (Batavia); Michelle Eichelberger, associate professor/librarian (Systems and Electronic Services), (Rochester); Donna Ehrhart, professor for Business and Computer Information Systems, (Rush); Gary Glaser, associate professor for Biology, (North Tonawanda); Julie Jackson-Coe, associate professor for Reading, (Amherst); Kathleen Kimber, professor of Spanish, (Naples); Nichola Lerczak, professor/Instructional Services librarian, (West Henrietta); Derek Maxfield, associate professor for History, (Churchville); Frank Mayo, professor for Speech and Theatre, (Williamsville); Nina Mortellaro, technical assistant for Human Communications and Behavior, (Batavia); Lisa Papke, technical specialist, Financial Aid, (Batavia); Tonya Passamonte, assistant professor for Nursing, (Batavia); Jennifer Ross, technical assistant for Student Resource Center (Computer Services), (Batavia); David Sink, technical assistant for GCC at Arcade, (Delevan); Ronald Spiotta, technical assistant for Athletics, (Batavia); Teresa Sukiennicki, assistant professor for Biology, (Rochester), and Pamela Swarts, assistant professor for Digital Art, (Buffalo).


  • Approved for first continuing appointment of the following GCC employees: Marirose Ethington, director of Science/professor of Biology, (East Bethany); Shana Flow, instructor of Nursing, (Holley); Christopher Kemp, director of Mathematics and Engineering, Science/Assistant professor in Mathematics, (LeRoy); Dr. Lina LaMattina, director of Business Programs/Assistant professor of Business, (Buffalo); Judith Littlejohn, technical specialist for Distributed Learning, (Elba); Kristen Mruk, technical specialist for Student Activities, (Lancaster); James Myers, instructor of Human Services, (Batavia); Kristen Schuth, director of Athletics, (Spencerport); Jennifer Sisbarro, instructor of Music, (Scottsville); Jenny Weatherall, technical assistant, International Advisor, (Brockport), and Stephen Wise, director of Campus Safety, (Rochester).


  • Approved the one year sabbatical request for Valerie Bello, associate professor of GCC’s Communication and Media Arts program to conduct research, evaluate and train on new automated content and scheduling systems, and further immerse herself in the continuously changing media industry. As a part-time DJ of Townsquare Media (WMSX-FM Mix96, and WBUF, WBLK, WYRK) in Buffalo, the sabbatical will give Bello the opportunity to expand her participation in critical behind-the-scenes station management techniques such as analyzing data, strategizing social media, program development and planning meetings. This experience will translate into fine tuning the curriculum with up-to-data real-life professional encounters the communication and media arts. In addition, upon the completion of her sabbatical, she will hold different workshops for students, staff and faculty, and present her findings to the Board of Trustees in the fall of 2018. 


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