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President Looks to Bright Future


Monday, February 20, 2017


February 17, 2017
From Plattsburgh Press Republican by Ashleigh Livingston; Photo by Suzanne Moore

CCC president looks to bright future


PLATTSBURGH — For Ray DiPasquale, the new year has already brought a new home, new colleagues and an important new duty — to lead Clinton Community College.

The school's president spent his first month on the job getting to know the area, meeting with business and community leaders and plotting a course for the college's future.

High on his list of priorities is to address the declining enrollment that CCC, like many community colleges across the nation, is experiencing.

The Livingston County native has experience tackling enrollment issues. During his decade at the helm of the Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick, the school saw increases in student numbers, as well as financial improvements.

DiPasquale also served as vice president of enrollment management and student affairs and interim vice president for institutional advancement at SUNY Brockport.

BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS

Clinton Community is currently serving the equivalent of 930 students, down from a high of 1,622 in 2010.

The plan, DiPasquale said during a recent meeting with the Press-Republican Editorial Board, is to stabilize enrollment numbers this coming fall and have them back on track by fall 2018.

Recruitment efforts, in part, will focus on encouraging those who have already earned some college credits to return to school and complete their degrees at CCC.

This will likely mean developing a more flexible class schedule and increasing online offerings, DiPasquale said.

The college is also developing partnerships with area businesses, he noted, which are looking to CCC "to be the economic driver in terms of providing the workforce."

Assisting with that will be the opening of the campus's $12.7 million Institute for Advanced Manufacturing, which is slated for this coming fall.

LEARNING COMMONS

The 30,000-square-foot facility is about 60 percent complete, DiPasquale said, with construction currently on time and on budget.

The institute is part of nearly $30 million in capital investments on the horizon for the campus, according to the college president.

Among its other projects is the creation of a $3 million Learning Commons, slated for occupancy in July 2018.

CCC is also proposing $12 million worth of critical maintenance and upgrades to the George Moore Building.

TWEAKING PROGRAMS

Additionally, the school is assessing its current programs and exploring ideas for new ones to attract students.

For example, DiPasquale said, CCC could offer a course of study in cyber security by simply tweaking some of its existing programs.

Drones are another up-and-coming field, he noted, and why wouldn't Clinton Community want to be a place that trains people to build and fix them?

"I think we have lots of things we can do to bring enrollment back," he said.

SCHOLARSHIPS

DiPasquale is hopeful Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Excelsior Scholarship will help as well.

That plan would provide free tuition to the state's two- and four-year colleges for students from households making less than $125,000 a year.

CCC is also providing more scholarships, he said, and has initiatives aimed at rewarding students who do well in high school.

Given everything that's in the works, he noted, "I think we'll be in a much better place."

And despite financial struggles in recent years, DiPasquale continued, the college has managed to keep costs low for students.

Small tuition increases will have to be considered in the future, he said, but "we don't ever want to get it up so high that nobody can afford it."

'THE RIGHT GUY'

"It's not one thing that's going to change the dynamic of Clinton Community College," CCC Board of Trustees Chairperson David Favro told the Editorial Board.

"It's going to take an innovative leader that's looking at multiple things ... that will reduce the cost of our operation while enhancing the delivery of our services and getting people to want to be part of that transition."

Ultimately, he added, "I can tell you Ray is the right guy."