With fewer county residents and enrollment challenges, SUNY Jamestown Community College is changing everything from the type of students it comes to to programming that meets the needs of employers.
“JCC is a college that is going through significant changes as we should. Our survival depends more than ever on our ability to adapt to the things that are changing around us. ” said college president Daniel DeMarte.
DeMarte recently gave his comments to the Audit and Control Committee of the Chautauqua County Legislature. During his presentation, he discussed the faculty’s goals for growth, issues related to the Dunkirk site, and lobbied for funding for capital projects.
DeMarte noted that the faculty targets its education to four groups of people: high school students, traditional students, adult students, and students outside the area.
He says they have historically had good results with high school and traditional students, but have failed when it comes to adults and students outside the area. “These are not the markets we have been actively striving for, and we have to do that for a variety of reasons.” He said.
“We are losing population at the top of the list. Our demographics are not in favor of having enough people in the area for the jobs we currently have. ”
DeMarte came to the faculty in 2018. He noted that from 2010 to 2018, the faculty lost enrollment.
“We’ve been sliding enrollment for nine years, which is not unusual,” He said. “Most colleges across the country are failing. We stopped that in ’19, so our immediate goal is to get back to where we were in ’19 and then determine where we can go next. We do not expect great growth, but some stability. Therefore, all our efforts are aimed at restoring the momentum we had by entering the pandemic. “
For the past three years, DeMarte said they have focused on developing the workforce, not necessarily pushing graduate programs, but offering classes that help employers in the county.
As an example, DeMarte said the faculty was addressed with the need for training in water treatment. “What was going on, you would have to send employees to Morrisville, the nearest training place. Based on that request, we worked with Morrisville. We have offered this here in the last two years and we have trained over 300 individuals locally for water treatment, ” He said.
In fact, the program was so successful that they were asked to offer training for other counties, including Niagara. The JCC also wants to offer training in wastewater treatment because there is a need for that as well.
DeMarte said they are also working on offering training programs in a shorter period of time. Last year, they offered two programs, one for machining, the other for industrial technology. Instead of four semesters over two years, they offered 15 students these training programs that lasted 10 and 12 weeks.
“Everyone’s done” He said. “They all had jobs that paid $ 18-19 an hour, which reinforces the point that not everyone needs a college degree. That’s the kind of thing we’re starting to see success with and we need to do more in the workforce. “
For high school students, DeMarte said last summer, in an attempt to get students back to campus, the JCC offered high school and senior students the opportunity to attend one course for free. “We have set a goal of 60 students. Sixty would mean success for us. We had 100. So it filled up before we were able to place the program, ” He said.
DeMarte said the JCC will re-launch it this summer. “We have set a goal of 150. From now until the summer semester there is a lot of time. We already have 90 students in it, ” He said.
The JCC North District Campus is located at 10807 Bennett Road (Route 60), Dunkirk. DeMarte said it was a place for discussion. “Ever since I came here, I’ve said I’m not sure that’s geographically where we should be,” He said. “We continue to explore possibilities. Nothing has come to fruition yet, however, there are two new partnerships we are working on that could give us insight into the answer to the question of whether we are in the right place or not. ”
The first thing they are researching is a partnership with the P-TECH center. Their goal this fall is to offer part of the career and technical education at P-TECH offered by JCC at its Institute of Manufacturing Technology in Jamestown and Cattaraugus County. “It’s not what we’re doing right now in downtown Dunkirk. What we are offering there now is essentially the first year of two-year transfer diplomas. We do not offer CTE programming in Dunkirk. I think there may be a gap. “ He said.
DeMarte said he often hears about it “great division” where people at the northern end of Chautauqua County will not travel to the southern end. “This may be true not only for our students, but also for our employers. We will test this by offering CTE programming at that P-TECH facility in Dunkirk and see if we can get an answer to that question, ” He said.
Their second goal is to relaunch the partnership with Job Corps. “Job Corps in Cassadaga is repopulating its facility,” said DeMarte. “They were basically closed from the pandemic. At full capacity there are somewhere around 220 individuals. We had an agreement some 10 years ago that any of those individuals who wanted a college education with the help of the federal government would come to the JCC and join our program. We are working on the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to continue where we left off 10 years ago, but open it up wider and make programming available wherever we offer it, including in this case the P-TECH plant in Dunkirk. So you won’t have to come to Jamestown if there are students at the institution who want something from the CTE program offered at the northern end of the county. We will see how the two partnerships work out if we get the insight we are looking for in terms of location. ”
This month, the County Planning Council is ranking its capital projects for next year. That list will be forwarded to the county legislature. DeMarte said the JCC has three projects on the list that it hopes the county will fund.
The first project is for Scharmann Theater. DeMarte said that they still received certain funds last year, however, due to the increase in stocks, they were not able to complete the work. He said the JCC needs an additional $ 53,000 from Chautauqua County, a quarter of the project. The faculty receives three-quarters of its funding from other agencies.
Another project is for the faculty to switch to LED lighting. DeMarte said the county’s cost would be $ 250,000. He added that once that is done, there will be immediate benefits from saving on electricity costs.
The third project is for a new football field, which would cost about $ 4 million in total, and the Chautauqua County share is $ 1 million. DeMarte said he understands the challenges of paying for something like this, but believes it is necessary.
“Here’s the deal from a college perspective,” He said. “We will not fill homes if we do not have athletics. There is no easy way to do that. ”
DeMarte said the new football field will also help them recruit international students. “I can’t compete with Corning and other schools below if we don’t have the opportunity to attract those students to the JCC,” He said. “They want to come, they want to be here. They like it here. They want to stay here. But we are at a point where we simply cannot compete with our neighboring institutions if we do not start to improve the facilities and start with the lawn on the football field. ”
Lawmakers thanked DeMarte for sharing the vision and challenges of the faculty. “I appreciate your honesty because you are the first person to come to us in the last few years, I believe we understand that – good news and bad news and I appreciate that.” said legislator David Wilfong, R-Jamestown.