Monday, December 6, 2010

FLCC among fastest growing community colleges

Finger Lakes Community College ranks among the fastest-growing two-year colleges in the nation, according to Community College Week magazine.

The Nov. 29 issue of the national publication ranked FLCC 40th on a list of the top 50 fastest-growing community colleges with an enrollment of 5,000 to 9,999. The ranking accompanied an article on surges in enrollment at community colleges across the country amid the economic downturn.

“The economy has certainly been a factor in our rising enrollment, but not the only one. Our numbers have been rising for several years, so we can also attribute our growth to our knowledgeable faculty and the personal attention students receive here as well as new, strategically developed programs, such as viticulture and wine technology,” said FLCC President Barbara Risser. “We target growth job markets and programs that meet a specific community need.”

The nursing program continues to have a waiting list, and FLCC’s signature programs, including environmental conservation and music recording, remain strong, Risser added.

The growth in student activities and sports teams, the addition of student housing adjacent to the campus and a growing appreciation for the educational value of community colleges has also contributed to FLCC’s rising enrollment, Risser said.

The Community College Week ranking was based on FLCC’s fall 2009 enrollment of 6,699 full- and part-time students, a 17 percent increase in one year. FLCC’s fall 2010 enrollment rose an additional 3.5 percent to 6,935 full- and part-time students.

The publication ranked the top 50 fastest-growing community colleges in four enrollment categories: Under 2,500, 2,500 to 4,999, 5,000 to 9,999 and 10,000 and above.  There are 1,200 community colleges across the country.

FLCC was one of only five New York state schools included on the four lists.

FLCC and its sponsor, Ontario County, have responded to the College’s growth with a series of capital projects to expand and modernize facilities. In January 2010, FLCC opened a 26,000-square-foot campus center in Victor.  Two months later, in March 2010, the College broke ground on a 78,000- square-foot Student Services Center at the main campus just outside the city of Canandaigua. The new building will house a larger cafeteria and bookstore, a 410-seat auditorium and all enrollment services reorganized into a One Stop Center.

The relocation of the cafeteria, bookstore and enrollment services to the new building in 2011 will free space on the second floor of the existing building to be remodeled into 26 state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories.

In 2011, FLCC and Ontario County will embark on a redevelopment of the Geneva Campus Center in downtown Geneva. The College will also launch Project Success, a new initiative to improve retention and transfer rates among academically-needy, first-generation and low-income students.

Project Success, funded by a five-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Education Department, will help 140 students per year by providing them with a wide range of services, including personal and career advising, financial aid and peer tutoring. The project’s director, Thomas Priester, a current member of the FLCC professional staff, will start work this month.

“It’s a very exciting time for community colleges with the increase in enrollment, and I am very proud to be involved in Project Success at Finger Lakes Community College. The more we can do for our students the better,” Priester said.

FLCC enrollment increases 30 percent from 2007-2010
2007: 2,852 full-time;  2,499 part-time; 5,351 total
2008: 3,121 full-time; 2,629 part-time;  5,750 total
2009: 3,750 full-time;  2,949 part-time; 6,699 total
2010: 3,901 full-time; 3,034 part-time; 6,935 total

Read the Community College Week article here.

Review the chart for the 5,000 to 9,999 enrollment category here.

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