Dansville Graduation Number Hits 200, GCC Associate Dean Reports to Trustees

More than 200 Dansville-area students that have attended classes at Genesee Community College’s Dansville Campus Center have graduated from GCC in the five years since the center relocated from Robert Hart Drive to its current Clara Barton Street location, college trustees learned Monday evening. Hundreds of additional students graduated in the prior ten years when the center was located on Robert Hart Drive.

The Board of Trustees held its October 2017 meeting at the Dansville Campus Center, which formerly housed the Dansville Middle School and at one time served as Dansville High School.

Campus Center Associate Dean Amy L. Churchfield told trustees that the Center is both an opportunity and a lifeline for many Dansville-area residents seeking a college education. Over the fall, spring and summer semesters last year, the Center saw almost 900 course registrations, leading to Genesee’s 60+ degrees and certificates. In addition, Dansville area students registered for courses in Batavia, online and even at other campus centers, such as the Lima Campus Center. Dean Churchfield told trustees that many popular general education courses are located in Dansville, which meets the needs of students whose work and family responsibilities prevent them from traveling to GCC’s Batavia Campus or the College’s other five campus centers.

Most students want to live and work locally, Dean Churchfield said. Many employers offer job opportunities in the Dansville area and in surrounding communities, but many require college education.  A good example, according to Dean Churchfield, is Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, which employs individuals in such diverse occupations as nurses, medical coders, office staff, information technology specialists and medical technologists.

Noyes Memorial Hospital CEO Amy Pollard was on hand for the Board of Trustees meeting and told trustees that the College’s Dansville Center is a “valuable partner” to Noyes, a 100+ year fixture in the community. Now that Noyes is affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center, the hospital is able to serve many more patients with a wider variety of services – which means more local jobs, Mrs. Pollard said. Beyond the job opportunities Noyes offers, Noyes welcomes GCC students to “shadow” staff members and Noyes staff members are happy to provide guidance and advice to GCC on curriculum content that will help students obtain good jobs after they graduate.

Dean Churchfield told trustees that many Dansville-area students, particularly students with families, struggle to get an education. “So many of our students have heavy responsibilities,” she said. “They have to strictly schedule their class time and study time around their children and home life, and persevere in order to succeed.”  Dean Churchfield and her staff attempt to schedule class hours around students’ work and family needs. “So for example, if you come in here between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. on a typical weekday, you’ll see the halls and classrooms buzzing. Students are coming from work, and trying to get a class in before going home to get dinner ready.” 

In response to a question from Trustee Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Dean Churchfield said that for most students, money is a big challenge. “Students need money for gas and child care and living expenses, in addition to the direct costs of education,” she said. “Most students must work while they are in college.”

Although the Center is known primarily for its academic offerings, staff, faculty members, and students play a vital role in community activities. The Center hosts community job fairs, participates in “Winter in the Village,” and hosts art shows and open houses, for example.

Center staff also help GCC students and community residents find post-associates degree educational opportunities as well. Staff members make information about GCC transfer agreements available to students, and staff also established a partnership with Keuka College, which offers its Accelerated Studies for Adults program at the Dansville Campus Center. 

One of the staff’s most interesting and heartwarming experiences are the opportunities they have to meet people who have some historical connection to the building housing the campus center, Dean Churchfield said.  “We meet older students who attended middle school or high school here, or have parents, grandparents or other family members who went to school here. They have all sorts of stories about the building, and love to compare the way the building looks today to the way it used to look.” 

Area residents wishing to learn more about programs and courses at Genesee’s Dansville Campus Center may call 585-335-7820.

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:                                     

  • Heard President James M. Sunser report that Batavia resident Sherrilyn R. Bartz has been appointed Director of the College’s Upward Bound program, replacing recently-retired Barbara C. Sadden. Upward Bound is a federally-funded program that provides academic and college readiness services to high school students in a number of area school districts.
  • Heard Vice President for Finance and Institutional Effectiveness William T. Emm report that students, faculty and staff are using the Student Success Center and Richard C. Call Arena. Both buildings opened in recent months. Contractors recently completed “punch list” (remaining construction-related tasks) in the Success Center, including completion of the Student Success Center lobby area, insulation, tile work, security swipe card systems and minor window work. Tasks recently completed in the Call Arena included minor painting, hardwood installation, and locker room tiles. The “punch lists” are growing shorter, and should be completed within the next 60 to 90 days, Mr. Emm said. “These are beautiful facilities,” President Sunser told trustees. “The results of the construction project are wonderful.”
  • Heard Trustees Laura J. Bohm, Donna M. Ferry, Laurie J. Miller, Benjamin J. Bonarigo, and Jacalyn F. Whiting report on the recent Association of Community College Trustees meeting. The five trustees participated in in-depth workshops on scholarships, industry partnerships, service learning, college safety, college athletics, and “Guided Pathways,” a new movement emphasizing highly structured, career-oriented course sequences. Trustee Bonarigo echoed the sentiments of other trustees when he said that Genesee Community College is a national leader on many academic and service fronts. “I went to the presentations and talked with people from all over the nation,” he said. “We’re in a fantastic position here at GCC.”
  • Heard Student Trustee Benjamin B. Martis report that seven members of the College’s student government will attend the State University of New York’s Student Assembly gathering in Albany later this month. 
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