PLATTSBURGH - Clinton Community College has had a good year.
The college recently released its 2009-2010 Annual Report, giving the institution a chance to take stock of "the good things" done over the pas year, said college president John E. Jablonski.
"It's important for us and for our stakeholders in the community to know, yeah, we've moved the ball down the field, we've made a good deal of progress in the last year," Jablonski said.
According to the report, enrollment of full- and part-time students for the fall 2010 semester was up 8 percent over the previous year, from 2,212 students to 2,401. The number is also a 13 percent increase over the fall 2008 semester, which demonstrates a growing trend in people being attracted to "the Clinton advantage," Jablonski said.
"Community colleges are set up to be accessible, more accessible probably than any other type of higher ed institution," said Jablonski. "We're financially accessible - many students can't afford the high price tag of college education, but thanks to our low tuition, our support from Clinton County that sponsors us, New York State and the financial aid that's available. We're geographically accessible and what I like to call temporally accessible. Everybody's leading busy lives today, so whether it's our on-line learning programs or whether it's our flexible scheduling, we're accessible in that way."
Clinton Community College's increase in enrollment is something Jablonski also attributes to the college's well-established curriculum and new, cutting-edge programs being offered.
"We have the first and only wind energy and turbine technology program not only in New York State but in the Northeast U.S.," Jablonski cited as an example. "Our nursing graduates continue on an annual basis to exceed the state and national pass rate on our licensing exam ... The list goes on and on."
That list also includes how the college's human services program was accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education last year - one of only three in New York State and the only one upstate.
However, what Jablonski considered one of the most crowning achievements for the college during the 2009-10 school year, was the continuation of its College Advancement Program, which gives students an opportunity to earn college credits before graduating high school. Last year, 840 high school students were enrolled in the program, with 24 awarded presidential scholarships that will allow them to attend the CCC tuition-free.
"The most important thing about [the program] is not necessarily that it shortens up a student's time toward the degree - although that could happen - but the most important thing in my view is that it allows students who might not otherwise be sure that they're college material to kind of test this out," said Jablonski. "What we hope is that more students will be assured that, 'Yeah, I can do this work. I can be successful at college.'"
"We hope that opens some doors to students for whom doors might not have been open before," he added.
The mission of the college, said Jablonski, aligns with State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher's "Power of SUNY" campaign - a strategic plan to show how SUNY schools like CCC can help the state recover from a troubled economy and to improve the quality of life for its residents.
"We here at Clinton are implementing those here in our little piece of New York State," said Jablonski. "People who may never enroll in a course here are benefitting from our nursing program every time they go to a physicians office or every time they go to CVPH Medical Center because chances are very, very high that part of their health care is being delivered by a Clinton Community College graduate."
"Our mission here at Clinton Community College is a community based-mission," he continued. "Our focus is clearly on the North Country and particularly in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. We're proud that community is our middle name."
As for the future, Jablonksi stated the college will face enrollment challenges as statistics show there will be less young people graduating from high schools in the next five years versus the last five. However, Jablonski said he knows the college will continue to thrive as its focus is on more than just recent high school graduates.
"I think you'll see us making more opportunities available for the nontraditional adult learners, those people who may have been out of school for a long time but are finding it increasingly important to come back and pursue higher education, maybe at a nontraditional point in their lives and in their careers," said Jablonski. "So, whether that's on-line learning or whether it's evenings and weekends, I think you'll be seeing us in the next few years broadening those kinds of opportunities as well."
The college's non-credit programs which train employees for businesses like Nova Bus, are also key the college's future.
"We provided a great deal of workforce training for them and, hopefully as Laurentian comes in, we will be a good partner with them as education and training opportunities arise," he said. "It's a great number of things that we're all proud of here at Clinton that we're accomplishing."