As part of its commitment to higher education access, Genesee Community College’s Board of Trustees last evening unveiled The Genesee Promise: that no Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming resident will be prevented from participating in college courses because of inability to afford tuition costs. The Board also launched a second initiative – The Genesee Promise Plus – providing all June 2008 high school graduates in the GLOW region with scholarships covering full tuition for one or two summer college courses at Genesee. [See related release on The Genesee Promise Plus].
Under The Genesee Promise, the College will use a combination of resources to guarantee that all area residents wishing to pursue higher education are able to cover tuition costs. These resources include existing sources of aid, such as federal PELL grants, New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) grants, and higher education loans; scholarships provided by the Genesee Community College Foundation; and new Genesee Promise grants provided by the College to assist students who cannot meet their tuition needs through other sources.
Although The Genesee Promise sounds like a far-reaching program, it is really a modest extension of current College initiatives, according to President Stuart Steiner. Students from families with marginal incomes already qualify for PELL and TAP grants, for example. The College Foundation provides both academic scholarships and need-based assistance for many students who do not qualify for PELL and TAP. The Genesee Promise will be most meaningful to students who “fall between the cracks” of existing aid and scholarship programs, or who face unusual financial hardship, such as the death of a family breadwinner, Dr. Steiner said.
The Genesee Promise may be most helpful to students pursuing a single course on a part-time basis, or who are returning to college after receiving a degree, Dr. Steiner told trustees. “These students do not have access to the wide range of financial aid programs that full-time students have,” he said. “Let’s say, for example, we have a student who already has a college degree and who wants to serve the community as a nurse. This student may face unique financial challenges to pay for tuition in getting a nursing degree. The Genesee Promise commits us to ensure that this future nurse will be able to finish his or her degree regardless of the ability to afford college tuition.” Other sources of scholarship aid may be available to help with other expenses – consistent with what the College does now to help many students with documented financial need.
The concept of the Genesee Promise is highly consistent with the recommendations of Governor Spitzer’s Commission on Higher Education. The Commission, in its recently released report, noted that full access to higher education is critical to New York State’s economic growth. The Commission also noted that existing financial aid programs leave many gaps, especially for part-time students. “Educational opportunity has been the hallmark of the community college movement,” Dr. Steiner said. “The Genesee Promise is our commitment to making educational opportunity real for every GLOW area resident of the 21st century.”
In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:
• Approved a three-year extension of the Genesee Community College Educational Support Personal Association contract. The GCCESPA voted to use the option clause in the present contract to request the extension.
• Approved an expenditure to expand the capacity of the water and sewer lines to the Batavia Campus. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is currently installing water and sewer lines on the south side of Hawley Drive for the new Med Tech Park. By piggybacking work for the College on the GCEDC’s work, Genesee Community College can upgrade its infrastructure at modest cost. Most important, the College can ensure that its water and sewer infrastructure will be adequate to support any of the projects in the Facilities Master Plan that might be undertaken in the future, President Stuart Steiner told trustees. “We appreciate the cooperation of the GCEDC, the Town of Batavia, and the utility contractor in making this work possible,” he said.
• Heard Dr. Virginia Taylor, Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services, report that applications from prospective full-time students for the Spring 2008 semester totaled 619, up 6.9% from the 579 applications received a year ago. Applications from prospective part-time students totaled 620, up 4.7%. President Stuart Steiner reported that students are currently earning 44,630 credit hours, up 2.6% from the 43,502 credit hours being earned a year ago.
• Heard Dr. Steiner report that Jamie Schultz is joining the College’s staff as Upward Bound Academic Coordinator. Ms. Schultz has served as a teacher in Genesee County schools, and has also worked with the Genesee Area Family YMCA. She holds an A.S. degree from Genesee Community College, a B.S. degree from SUNY Brockport, and a M.Ed. degree from Roberts Wesleyan College. Upward Bound provides a variety of academic and college readiness services to four Wyoming County school districts.
• Heard Kevin Hamilton, Vice President for Finance and Operations, report that the College is now disposing of surplus equipment through www.auctionsinternational.com. This online auction site provides cost-effective auction services to many municipalities and school districts in New York State and beyond. Auctions are conducted in silent auction format, and the College reserves the right to reject any bids that are considered unacceptable. The College listed its four lots on the auction web site last week, Mr. Hamilton said. These included two pug mills and outdated computer equipment.