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GCC fall semester opens with many positive developments across campus

STAFF REPORTS

BATAVIA, N.Y. -- As Genesee Community College's Fall 2018 semester entered its fourth week, the Board of Trustees heard from Dr. Kathleen (Kate) M. Schiefen, GCC's provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs on nearly a dozen new developments, all illustrating the College's continuous improvements and innovations focused largely on student success. Among the items Dr. Schiefen reported on were:

A Memorandum of Understanding signed by GCC and the Iroquois Job Corps to enroll six Advanced Career Training students into the College's Liberal Arts program helping them prepare for employment, an associate degree from GCC or an advanced degree.

The introduction of the new Tutor Track software to help track, assess, schedule and manage GCC's newly organized Tutoring Center which provides one-on-one academic support at seven different locations within the Batavia campus, as well as at all six campus centers. The grant-funded system records the number of tutoring hours, instructors, courses and students supported, and will enable GCC to carefully assess its tutoring program, ever mindful of trends in academic need and opportunities for learning enhancements.

Continued progress in developing opportunities for students to earn 'micro-credentials,' which are particularly helpful for adult students who many not want or need a two-year associate degree or even a one-year certificate. Rather, micro-credentials allow students to "upskill" their existing knowledge base with just the right courses needed for career advancement, entering or re-entering the workforce.
Forty-five GCC faculty members recently participated in a one-day course assessment workshop facilitated by Carol Van Zile-Tamsen, the assistant vice provost for Educational Effectiveness from the University of Buffalo.

Renovations at the Arcade Campus Center were completed in time for the fall semester with fresh paint, furniture and window treatments. In addition, Arcade and GCC's other five campus centers all now have new, upgraded "zoom" technology to dramatically enhance distance learning webinars and video-links.

GCC's Online Learning Office created a new Online Student Community Space providing a virtual place for online learners to connect with their peers outside of their online coursework.
The College's new Diversity and Inclusion Office not only has a new website and logo, but Sara Vacin is the new coordinator and has initiated many new opportunities for the campus community including a new Facebook page.

Lastly, Dr. Schiefen highlighted several new appointments and notable recognitions in her area: Jessica Hibbard is now the associate dean of the Wyoming County Campus Centers; Dr. Lina LaMattina, GCC's director of Business Programs and assistant professor was invited to participate in the 2018-2019 Western New York Women's Leadership Institute; and Joe Ziolkowski, assistant professor of Photography is working full time this semester with the Collaborative Online International Learning program, known as COIL-which currently has an exhibit on display in the Stuart Steiner Theatre Lobby Art Gallery at the Batavia campus

The Board of Trustees also heard from Dr. Shelitha Williams, vice president of Student and Enrollment Services. Among the developments in her area was a new student orientation scheduled the morning of move-in day at College Village offering a more convenient opportunity for students and their families who travel from great distances. Dr. Williams also spoke about new academic "pathways and pipelines" providing additional options for students interested in transferring to numerous SUNY and private colleges and universities such as: The SUNY College at Brockport, Geneseo, Buffalo State College and Oswego, and a new 3+1 agreement with Rochester Institute of Technology. Finally, Dr. Williams noted that GCC representatives will be at the SUNY Welcome Center in Manhattan on October 1 to meet with potential students and discuss how GCC can help them meet, or likely exceed their academic goals.

In other business last Monday night, the Board of Trustees:

• Heard special report about the STEM Enrichment Program from Ed Levinstein, associate dean and Karlyn Finucane, a specialist from GCC's Accelerated College Enrollment (ACE) Office. In 2011, Finucane introduced the new Math Science Prep Program to provide young students who are not only gifted in these subject areas but also largely located in rural school districts with the opportunity to pursue college coursework and credit while in middle and high school. Since that time, the program has evolved into the STEM Enrichment Program and then another offshoot known as STEM FLEX.

Collectively, Finucane's efforts have helped harness existing academic resources at GCC to give high school students the maximum opportunity to earn college credit, save substantial tuition dollars and provide them with momentum to excel on their academic journey. This past May, ten high schools seniors and the first cohort of the STEM Enrichment Program attended GCC's 50th Commencement ceremony earning their GCC associate degrees while they simultaneously finished their high school diplomas.

"GCC's ACE program has a very good track record-our full-time faculty, high school instructors and the academic quality all provide a comparable experience to regular college classes," Dr. Sunser, president of the GCC said. "The learning experiences offered by our ACE Office are one of the most solid programs of its kind in New York State, which was clearly noted by Middle States last year during our accreditation review."

• Heard John Sisson, director of College Village, report on the first phase of the renovation project where Building E or Birch Hall is being transformed into a communal style living space with each of its two floors providing 14 single bedrooms arranged around a centrally located shared kitchen, dining and living space and men's and women's bathrooms. The remodeling and reconfiguration concept is the result of substantial research that included focus groups at College Village, visits to other student housing complexes, and reviewing external housing organization reports. Building E is on schedule to be completed in time for occupancy in January 2019.

• Heard Gina Weaver, associate vice president of Human Resources report on new Title IX mandates from New York State and pending mandates from SUNY which will require new sexual harassment training policies. In addition, SUNY is also mandating new policies on student Mumps, Measles and Rubella immunizations.

• Heard Kathleen Kimber, professor of Spanish report on her representation on the SUNY Faculty Council, which encourages the continuation of open lines of communication between faculty, students and the administration. Additionally, she reported that the Fall 2019 SUNY Faculty Plenary Meeting will be hosted by GCC. It is likely to draw more than 100 visitors to campus possibly including the chancellor, vice chancellor, student government leaders and many SUNY presidents.

• Heard President Sunser read a Resolution of Appreciation recognizing the 30 years of service by Valerie A. Hale, an executive secretary who will be retiring next week.

• Welcomed nearly a dozen new employees of the College, including Diamond Jones, the new student representative of the Board of Trustees who is from Niagara Falls and enrolled in GCC Fashion program.