Student Success, Community Partnerships Drive GCC's New Facilities Master Plan

Genesee Community College's new Facilities Master Plan should emphasize facilities that promote student success, community partnerships, and cost-effective stewardship of buildings and grounds, Robert J. Joy, managing principal of JMZ Architects and Planners, P.C., told the College's Board of Trustees Monday evening.

Batavia, New York - Genesee Community College’s new Facilities Master Plan should emphasize facilities that promote student success, community partnerships, and cost-effective stewardship of buildings and grounds, Robert J. Joy, managing principal of JMZ Architects and Planners, P.C., told the College’s Board of Trustees Monday evening.

Mr. Joy said that he and his staff heard those themes repeated frequently by trustees, as well as faculty and staff members, as the architectural firm prepared Genesee’s new Facilities Master Plan, required every five years by the State University of New York.

Trustees agreed, and unanimously endorsed the principles Mr. Joy presented. The architectural firm plans to complete the formal Facilities Master Plan this summer. The College could begin to seek New York State funding for the Plan as early as this fall, Vice President for Finance and Operations Kevin P. Hamilton said.

Trustees had retained JMZ Architects and Planners last year to prepare the Facilities Master Plan. The Glens Falls-based firm is a nationally recognized leader in higher education facilities and space planning.

The Facilities Master Plan will recommend the creation of more gathering space for students around the Batavia Campus, improvements to the Library, expansion of dining areas, renovation of the Batavia Campus entrance, roofing projects, parking lot renovations, and needed maintenance and upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. Mr. Joy’s firm will recommend the construction of an approximately 9,000 square foot Student Success Center, and also plans to recommend that the Wellness and Events Center envisioned in the 2007 Facilities Master Plan be carried over to the new plan.

The new Facilities Master Plan will enable the College to serve students and the community more effectively, and remain competitive, Mr. Joy said. Noteworthy goals of the Plan include:

•Creation of a Learning Commons. The Learning Commons would likely be an addition to the College Library, encompassing a variety of student support services currently scattered around the College.

•Creation of a Student Success Center. Mr. Joy envisions that this 9,000 square foot Center, which could be constructed immediately west of the Batavia Campus plaza, would be a “one-stop” service center for students and community residents. It would contain admissions and financial aid services, job and career counseling, advising for current and prospective students, and other services. “More significantly, it would place a variety of service staff in one location, enable cross training, and permit the College to provide many non-classroom services more quickly and efficiently,” Mr. Joy said. “Other colleges have found that this one-stop approach significantly improves student retention and success.”

•Creation of a Wellness and Events Center. Mr. Joy noted that such a center has been discussed for about 15 years and was endorsed as part of the last Facilities Master Plan. It would be used for student events, athletics, and community gatherings, as well as wellness and health education.

•Reduction or Elimination of Space Deficits. Genesee currently has 27,981 square feet of space available for student and faculty activities, significantly under the 48,310 square feet recommended by SUNY. Deficits also exist in the Library and athletic facilities.

•Realignment of Batavia Campus Space for New Programs. Mr. Joy and President James M. Sunser noted that Batavia Campus facilities are “landlocked,” with little space available for new classrooms and labs. Creation of new space, through a Student Success Center and a Wellness and Events Center, would enable the College to relocate some functions more efficiently and free up space for programs that meet new workforce needs.

•Continued Fiscal Strength of the College. The quality of Genesee Community College’s programs and facilities has attracted students across New York State and beyond, Mr. Joy noted. This has resulted in a stable college budget and very favorable costs to local taxpayers. “If you continue to make strategic investments in programs and facilities, you will remain a college of choice for local and non-local students, and the entire region will benefit,” Mr. Joy said.

Mr. Joy complimented the Board of Trustees and Genesee County Legislature, sponsor of the College, for “wise and effective stewardship” over the years. JMZ Architects learned that Genesee Community College rates 3% on the Facilities Condition Index (FCI), a nationally-normed measure of maintenance and repair backlogs. SUNY considers any college with an FCI below 5% to be in very good physical condition. “Clearly, the College and the County have been very conscientious in performing preventive maintenance and upgrades,” Mr. Joy said. “This has resulted in very functional facilities and lower long-term costs to taxpayers.”

Completion of the Facilities Master Plan is only the first step in implementing the recommendations made by JMZ Architects, Mr. Joy reminded trustees. State, local, and private funding must be lined up before any projects can become a reality. “This will be a multi-year process, and you may have to complete the plan in stages,” he said.

Mr. Joy urged trustees to make the implementation of the Facilities Master Plan a priority. Said Mr. Joy: “You and your sponsor [Genesee County Legislature] have adopted large portions of facilities master plans in the past, and you are now reaping the benefits of those very wise decisions. The steps you took over the years and the decisions you made now bring large numbers of out-of-area students and significant financial resources here each year. The investments you have made in facilities over the last two decades have been largely paid by out-of-area dollars. Students and local taxpayers have benefited from your decisions. What you need to do in the future is continue the very wise and strategic types of decisions you have made in the past.”

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:
•Heard Trustee Laurie J. Miller, Chair of the Nominating Committee, recommend a slate of officers for the 2012-2013 year. The Nominating Committee recommended that Maureen Torrey Marshall be elected chair; Diane D. Torcello, vice-chair, and Laura J. Bohm, secretary. Trustees will elect officers at the July Board of Trustees meeting.

•Heard President James M. Sunser report that Debbie L. Allen of Avon will join the staff as a technical assistant at the Dansville Campus Center. Ms. Allen comes to Genesee from Monroe Community College. She holds an A.A.S. degree from Alfred State College and a B.S. degree from SUNY Brockport.

•Heard President Sunser report that Patricia H. Bigwood will join the faculty as Instructor of Sociology. Ms. Bigwood will relocate to the area from Arizona where she has taught at Brookline College, Pima Community College, and Coconino Community College. She holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from Northern Arizona University.

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