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Newsday: Suffolk County Community College holds its 55th commencement

May 21, 2017 By Christopher Cameron   christopher.cameron@newsday.com

Dr. Shaun L. McKay, President of Suffolk County
Dr. Shaun L. McKay, President of Suffolk County Community College, next to Aymer Callejas an Alumi of class 2000 accepts the diploma for his younger brother, Kevin Callejas, who died on May 28, 2016, Dr. James Keane, Executive Dean of the Michael Grant Campus is next to him at the Suffolk County Community College Graduation in Selden, May 21, 2017. (Credit: Marisol Diaz)

Suffolk County Community College held its 55th commencement Sunday in the Health, Sports and Education Center on the Michael J. Grant campus in Brentwood.

Number of graduates

4,174 total degrees awarded.

Commencement speaker

Space Shuttle Commander Robert “Hoot” Gibson spoke about his career as a fighter pilot and astronaut, attributing his success to the teachings of his father and the associate degree in engineering science he received from SCCC in 1966. “You are all going to find, just as I did, that the education that you received was excellent preparation,” he said. “I never would have dared to dream that I would get to go to space…Follow your dreams, follow your passion.”

Student speakers

Samantha Reeves, 26, of Bay Shore, who earned an associate degree in communications, could not hold back tears as she spoke of her mother, who died from cancer before she could see her daughter graduate. “A few days before she passed, she made me promise her that I would finish school regardless of how many limits life had to offer,” she said. “This moment, to me, means that I kept my promise to my momma.”

Lucia Mallozzi, of Ronkonkoma, who earned an associate degree in geological and earth sciences, spoke of the challenges she faced early in her studies. “Midsemester, tried to take my own life. Some of you may be thinking ‘Why would she admit to over 4,000 people that she attempted suicide?’ I did because the truth is that … 1 in 50 college students ages 18-24 will attempt to take their own lives,” she said. “It was a hard decision to return to Suffolk, but in hindsight it was the best decision I ever made. Because of Suffolk County Community College, I did not become a statistic.”


Joan Bolanos-Martinez, 32, business administration

“Venezuela, right now, is having hard times. I want to help to rebuild my country. All the opportunities that I’m getting here in Suffolk, I owe this to my country.”

Victor Piccini-Ventura, 23, liberal arts

“It feels like I’ve made an impact for myself. And I hope to make an impact on others.”

Anthony Valcourt, 22, business administration

“I want to go back to my country in Haiti. My goal is to create a better opportunity for kids in need, to be able to have a better future just like I did.”

Sumayyah Uddin, 22, liberal arts

“I didn’t really want to leave Suffolk. This really became my second home. I was really shy before I came here, and now I have a bunch of friends. It kind of feels weird to uproot myself all over again.”

Source: Newsday

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SBU to offer SCCC nursing students automatic admission

Newsday SBU Grad

Graduating students stand during the Stony Brook University School of Nursing commencement ceremony on Dec.  21, 2009.  Photo Credit: Newsday file / Joel Cairo

Nursing students in good standing at Suffolk County Community College will have the opportunity to be admitted automatically into the competitive bachelor’s degree program at Stony Brook University because of a new partnership to begin this fall that aims to fast-track higher education for practicing nurses.

Officials from both schools are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding Tuesday at the Stony Brook campus.

The new program — called Suffolk-Stony Brook Nursing First — will be the first on Long Island to give students at a community college joint admission into a bachelor’s degree program. The partnership diversifies and accelerates nursing education attainment, advocates say, and answers the call by medical professionals to increase the number of registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees by 2020.

“Our colleagues at Suffolk do an outstanding job in preparing and diversifying our nursing workforce with the selection and training of future nurses,” said Lee Anne Xippolitos, dean of Stony Brook University School of Nursing. “However, with dramatic changes in an ever-changing health care landscape, the need to educate nurses who are skilled at the highest levels is necessary. This program provides the students with a wonderful bridge to that education.”

To gain admittance into SBU’s nursing school in their junior year, SCCC nursing students would need to maintain a 3.1 grade-point average, out of 4.0, and complete the associate in science degree. The initial class will consist of 65 students; and the Nursing First program will have its own admissions committee, Xippolitos said.

Entering Stony Brook’s traditional bachelor’s of nursing program is competitive. The school receives 1,200 to 1,400 applications, granting interviews to 400 of those, for 160 spots.

Students who choose SCCC for the first two years would save on tuition. For the 2016-17 academic year, SCCC’s tuition was $4,770; SBU’s tuition was $6,470.

A 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called for nurses to achieve higher levels of education and training through the educational system and promotes seamless academic progression. “The Future of Nursing Report” points out that by 2020 the nation will need an additional 1 million nurses at the bedside to care for an aging population.

The report also recommends that 80 percent of the practicing nurses be educated at the baccalaureate level in order to continue to perform at the level needed as nursing practices advance along with medicine.

To practice as a registered nurse in New York, a person must be licensed and registered with the state Education Department, which is dependent upon successfully completing a licensing exam. A person with an associate degree is able to sit for the exam and work as an RN.

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is becoming a new employment requirement by hospitals on Long Island and New York City. Additionally, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which represents 800 nursing schools nationally, recognizes the bachelor of science degree in nursing as the minimum educational requirement for professional nursing practice.

SCCC President Shaun McKay said the partnership will facilitate upward educational and career mobility for his students.

“As a community college, Suffolk cannot be late in meeting the demands of our regional employers, because our mission directs us to be at the forefront in preparing the area’s workforce,” said McKay, who has been president since 2010. “We are a critical economic development engine and we must be particularly nimble.”

In 2016, 80 percent of SCCC’s students passed the state-registered nurse license exam; 95 percent of SBU’s students passed, according to SCCC and SBU officials. This data is reported on the state’s Office of the Professions website, which tracks the pass rates of first-time test-takers. The 2016 numbers were not yet available on the site.

The memorandum of understanding between SBU and SCCC’s nursing school will be in effect for three years. In the fall of 2020, faculty leaders will assess the program, they said.

Copyright © 2017   Newsday.

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Newsday – Manufacturers: $2.9M grant should produce more qualified workers

Updated January 17, 2017 6:00 AM
By James T. Madore  james.madore@newsday.com


Long Island manufacturers are hopeful that a $2.9 million federal grant will help produce more qualified job applicants for hard-to-fill positions. The grant, won by Suffolk County Community College, will go toward new training programs and internships at local plants over four years. Nov. 3, 2016 Photo Credit: Chuck Fadely

Local manufacturers are hopeful that a $2.9 million federal grant will help produce more qualified job applicants for hard-to-fill positions, such as machinist, tool and die maker, welder and quality assurance specialist.

Officials said the U.S. Department of Labor grant, won by Suffolk County Community College in July, will go toward new training programs and internships at local plants over the next four years.

Troy Tucker, the college’s associate dean for grants development, said some of the funds also will be used to prepare the unemployed and underemployed for jobs in health care information and cybersecurity. Up to 145 students will be readied for manufacturing occupations; 212 will go into either health care or cybersecurity.

Regina Vieweg, chief executive of Check-Mate Industries, a stampings and components manufacturer in West Babylon, said, “We’re excited about this program because we’ve lost a whole generation of tool and die makers. . . . We need them, and this program will help.”

She joined about 60 business executives, educators and economic development officials last week to hear how SCCC intends to use the largest federal grant it’s ever received.

John Lombardo, the college’s associate vice president for workforce and economic development, said he is seeking feedback from manufacturers about the types of skills they are looking for in job applicants.

He also said he is establishing committees to help develop training curricula in tool and die making, quality control, human resources, cost estimating and electronics.

Lombardo, who runs SCCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, said the training is generally free to students. “We provide them with a foundation in manufacturing so that they are ready to learn in the work environment,” he said, adding the center offers certificate programs in a number of factory occupations.

“We can help a displaced worker up their skills at no cost to them or anyone else,” Lombardo said. “Someone can get back into the community with additional skills.”

The center has trained between 300 and 400 people since it started in 2005. The new grant comes from fees paid for H1B visas that allow foreigners to work in the United States, not taxpayer dollars.

Joseph P. Bryant, manufacturing director at Precipart in East Farmingdale, said he’s hired five graduates of the SCCC training center. Precipart makes gears, motion-control equipment and precision components.

“Manufacturing is alive and well on Long Island, and a necessity,” Bryant said. “You can earn a good living as a machinist. . . . The grant will allow us and others to have more interns because the money will be there to pay them.”

Copyright © 2017   Newsday  All rights reserved.

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Newsday – LIers reflect on 50th anniversary of Kwanzaa

Updated December 20, 2016 2:55 PM
By Joie Tyrrell  joie.tyrrell@newsday.com

Ira kimoni, of Bay Shore, participates in a

Ira kimoni, of Bay Shore, participates in a Kwanzaa celebration held at the Brentwood Public Library on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Kwanzaa, the secular holiday honoring African-American culture and history, marks its 50th anniversary this year — a meaningful milestone for Bay Shore’s Norman Daniels.“Fifty years is very significant in the fact that before 1966, there was not a celebration or any kind of recognition of African-Americans living in this nation,” said Daniels, who recently retired as coordinator for multicultural affairs at Suffolk County Community College.

Reaching the half-century mark, he said, also has enabled families and groups to establish longtime traditions for Kwanzaa — which begins the day after Christmas, though it has no formal connection to that holiday.

“My family and I have been celebrating since the early 1970s, late 1960s,” he said. “The more we recognize it with the children, it gives them a stronger sense of self, and it is a way to bridge the gap between generations.”

Kwanzaa, which was created in 1966 by Cal State Long Beach Africana Studies professor Maulana Karenga, means “first fruits of the harvest” in Swahili, and is based on ancient customs in Africa.

Members of the Kwanzaa Steppers during Kwanzaa Land. Students at the Centennial Avenue School, Roosevelt, celebrated Kwanzaa 50th Anniversary, Dec. 16, 2016. Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

The holiday employs the Swahili language and Pan-African symbolism to emphasize a theme for each of its seven days: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Celebrants light red, green and black candles to represent the seven principles.

Earlier this month, Daniels hosted a Kwanzaa celebration at the Brentwood Public Library. The event was just one of several celebrations across Long Island, which are often held at libraries, communities and churches and are marked by singing, dancing, storytelling, drumming, poetry and candlelighting.

A handful of schools and some local officials already have hosted events. Earlier this month, the Roosevelt school district celebrated the holiday with an evening festival at the Centennial Avenue Elementary School. More than 300 students, aged 6 to 11, performed individually and in groups.

“It is very special to us in that we have been doing this program since the ‘90s … It is a very special time for us,” said Centennial Avenue principal Barbara Solomon, who marked the celebration by writing a play, “The Kwanzaa Express.”

“This is a story of the seven principles on a train ride and they lose two — unity and faith,” she said. “By the end of the play they find unity and faith and it brings everyone back together.”

Kwanzaa celebration is held at the Brentwood Public Library on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Tara Riley-Patrick, who has a daughter in the sixth grade and a son who is a college student, said the school festival has become a tradition for their family.

“It means so much to us,” she said. “It is almost like going to a Broadway play. Everyone participates in the community to make this work.”

Other celebrations marking Kwanzaa this year include an event at Roosevelt Field mall on Dec. 29 hosted by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, and another the day before at the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City.

Daniels, 65, who hosts his own celebration at his home, said friends and former students often start calling him in November to ask when his gathering will take place.

“We talk about the imani (faith) … what does faith mean to each of us and what can we do to make that faith stronger?” he said, describing his own approach to the holiday. “And what can we do for the next year for unity and to sustain us both culturally and spiritually?”

Copyright © 2016   Newsday. All rights reserved.

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Newsday – With state grant, Suffolk community college opens new vets center


SCCC Director of Veterans Affairs Shannon O’Neill ’00 sits with Vincent Miller, an Army vet and student at Suffolk County Community College, in a temporary space for vets on the Selden campus. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

Updated December 20, 2016 6:00 AM
By Sophia Chang  sophia.chang@newsday.com

Suffolk County Community College has long reached out to a special group of students: veterans. Last spring, the school opened dedicated resource centers for the veterans on all three of its campuses.

A new $23,000 grant from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council will go toward building a 1,700-square-foot permanent facility on the Ammerman campus in Selden to assist veterans, moving the center out of its temporary home and into a new facility in Kreiling Hall, which is also slated for renovation.

The grant was part of a total of $62 million awarded to 101 projects on Long Island, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 8.

“The crux of the new grant we’re getting will help us to renovate the new facility,” said Shannon O’Neill ’00, director of veterans affairs for Suffolk County Community College.

O’Neill said the school has about 700 veterans or military-connected students among its 26,000 students. The resource centers gather all of the relevant programs and information for the students and help veterans apply for various benefits and assistance.

“The resource centers provide benefit advisement for the GI Bill as well as tuition assistance. We also assist with some job placement programs, especially for specific organizations and corporations looking to recruit veterans,” O’Neill said. “In addition, we work with all local organizations to assist veterans transitioning from the military back into civilian life.”

Vincent Miller, 43, a student from Westhampton Beach, said he’s made use of the SCCC centers as a physical sanctuary as well as a place to learn about benefits.

“It’s been a great asset for veterans coming back in to school – [it] points them in the right direction and a place where you can just come back and relax inside an area with people who have been through the same situation as you,” said Miller, who is studying business management and hopes to run his own automotive or craftsman business someday. “A lot of times you get the resources here you need, like reading materials or scholarships that are strictly for veterans.”

Miller served in the Army as a sergeant first class and was deployed to Iraq in 2003. He’s met fellow veterans in the resource centers as well. “It’s just a great way to reach out and touch other people who have been in the same position,” Miller said.

Another student and veteran, Jason Chervin, 27, of Holbrook, works part-time at the center and says the resource centers offer veterans a sense of community.

“We have veterans coming in with questions that they had coming out of service that aren’t completely answered, and they’re able to use the resources that the VA has to help guide them through the program,” said Chervin, who is planning to transfer to Stony Brook University’s nursing program upon graduating from SCCC. “They have a path, they have some place to go with questions where there’s people who have been through it already or understand or specialize in the field.” he said.

Chervin served in the Navy as a petty officer third class.

Nassau Community College also has a veterans center on its Garden City campus for its 310 veteran students, according to NCC spokeswoman Kate Murray.

The renovation of Kreiling Hall and the construction of the new veterans resource center are to begin in April, and school officials hope to open the center in the spring of 2018.


Copyright © 2016   Newsday. All rights reserved.

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Suffolk County Community College 2016 Commencement

Newsday – May 15, 2016 By James T. Madore james.madore@newsday.com

SCCC NewsdayGraduates line up outside Field House of the Graduates line up outside Field House of the Health, Sports and Education Center waiting to enter before the ceremony begins, at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus, as it holds its 54th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 15, 2016. (Credit: Uli Seit)

Suffolk County Community College held its 54th commencement ceremony Sunday at the college’s Brentwood campus.
Number of graduates 4,398 across 3 campuses — most in the college’s history
Commencement speaker

H. Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY board of trustees, spoke about growing up in a family that received “welfare checks”, earning a college degree and having his name on every state check after being elected state comptroller. He urged the graduates to be VIPs – to be visionary, have integrity and participate in society. “Never underestimate the power you hold to change the course of policy and to change history,” he said.
Student speakers

Juhara Bushra, 21, of Ronkonkoma, who earned an associate degree in liberal arts/general studies and plans to become a physician, said, “You have made it here today because of your hardwork and determination — keep up the good work, listen to your heart and trust yourself with your own future.”

Matthew Sclafani, 20, of Lake Grove, who graduated with an associate degree in business administration and will attend the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said, “Dedicate yourself completely to whatever it is you choose to do in life.”

Nkrumah “Nick” Gordon, 38, of Holbrook, who earned an associate degree in nursing and hopes eventually to become a nursing professor, said, “The faculty and counselors here have helped me to forge a key that can never be lost or broken: an education that will not only transform my life but the lives of my family and the patients that I will care for.” Student reactions

Sue A. Washburn, 56, accounting

“Now that I have my degree, I hope I can move up at the environmental services company that I work for, maybe become controller,” said Washburn, of Patchogue.

Sattarock A. Blackwood, 23, criminal justice

“I’m going to CUNY/John Jay College in the fall and plan to become a cop, hopefully in Suffolk County,” said Blackwood, of Manorville.

Danielle M. Hartmann, 21, liberal arts

“I’m thinking about going into physical therapy because I like seeing people get better,” said Hartmann, of Hauppauge.

Matthew Williams, 20, communications

“I’ll be studying communications and sports management in the fall at the University of Connecticut and I hope to go into public relations for a professional sports team; if I’m lucky, it will be the Islanders,” said Williams, of Centereach.

View Newsday Photos

Copyright © 2016   Newsday. All rights reserved.

News 12 Long Island Video

Record number of students graduate from Suffolk County Community College
Updated May 15, 2016 6:19 PM

A record-number of students got their diplomas from Suffolk Community College on Thursday. (5/15/16)

BRENTWOOD – A record number of students got their diplomas from Suffolk Community College on Sunday.

A graduation ceremony for the 4,398 students was held in Brentwood. Many of the students say they are taking what they learned and are going after their dreams.
The event marked Suffolk Community College’s 54th commencement ceremony.

Copyright © 2016   News12 Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved.

Suffolk County Community College Media Services Video

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Newsday – Certificate programs: A shortcut to new careers

Certificate programs: A shortcut to new careers

March 10, 2016 By Jim Merritt Special to Newsday

Christine Graf

Christine Graf rolls out the sweet dough in the Baking Lab at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

After Christine Graf’s job as a graphic artist was outsourced last August, the Nesconset resident, at age 59, decided to make a 180-degree career correction and cook up a new occupation for herself.

With time to spare and a severance package to float her, Graf is getting a fresh start in a field far from desktop publishing by earning a certificate in baking and pastry arts from Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead.

“I’ve always enjoyed baking, I have an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that everyone liked, and I’m also famous for my raspberry squares,” Graf says. She first learned her way around an oven in her mother’s kitchen in Copiague, and always shared pies, batches of brownies and other baked goodies with co-workers.

These days, Graf spends her Fridays teaming up with other future chefs to complete assignments for baking and pastry assistant professor Richard Amster. Going to pastry school isn’t all sweetness and light, though. On Wednesdays Graf spends classroom time learning about sanitation regulations and restaurant management. Tuition for the community college certificate program costs about $9,000.

Graf hopes to start earning some of that investment back when she rejoins the working world as a professional baker at a restaurant or craft fair. She’s even thinking of starting her own business at the Stony Brook University Business Incubator.

“It’s exciting, and it’s also a little bit scary to be out of your comfort zone,” Graf says.

Long Islanders who want to jump-start a new career, or improve chances for a promotion in their current job, are getting a boost from certificate programs in a variety of fields — not only in pastry arts but also interior decorating, document translation, business management and solar energy. If you’ve been tossed from your job through attrition or downsizing, held back by the lack of a degree, or want to leap into an entirely new field, certificate programs are generally less expensive, and take less time to complete, than a traditional associate’s or bachelor’s degree, education experts say.

If you decide to return to school, and you’re 50 or older, you’ll most likely fit right in. Jo Anne Durovich, chairwoman of the Human Services department at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue, says the overwhelming majority of students enrolled in the school’s certificate programs, such as gerontology and alcohol and addictions counseling, are mature adults starting second careers.

“They are my strongest students; they have the discipline of already having entire careers and raising families,” Durovich says.

The vast majority of certificate students go back to school either for a career change or advancement, says Shawn O’Riley, dean of University College, the Adelphi University program for working adults. “Occasionally it’s folks who are kind of looking for self improvement,” he adds.

A significant number, like Celine Rogan of East Hampton, are driven by concern that the lack of a college credential is holding them back at work. “The one thing that always gnawed away at me was not finishing my college education,” says Rogan, who is 54. After graduating in 1979 from Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, Rogan had completed two semesters of liberal arts studies at Nassau Community College in Garden City. But she dropped out to work full-time in the city before getting her degree. As operations manager for a Long Island transportation company, she’s surrounded by millennials with bachelor’s degrees. “I felt like I could have easily done the same thing that they did and improved my career chances,” she says.

With better-late-than-ever resolve, Rogan is taking a 32-credit certificate in business management from Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead. She’s two classes away from completing a certificate that she says will make her “a lot more hirable,” and halfway to the associate’s degree her heart’s set on.

Although credit certificate programs can be applied to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, many are taken for no academic credit. However, the goal remains the same: to learn the basic skills for a job — with no time spent on liberal arts courses.

That no-frills arrangement appeals to many older students. “I am always anxious to get going quickly in things, so I felt the certificate program would give me the skills needed to start my business,” says Judy Insinga, 67, of Bellmore. She’s planning to apply what she’s learned in a New York Institute of Technology interior design certificate program at a painted furniture store she’s starting up with her longtime friend and interior decorating classmate, Mary Canty, 52, of Baldwin.

Not interested in running your own business? Certificate programs can also add a marketable skill that puts post-retirement bucks in your pocket or purse.

“One day when I retire from education I want translation to be a source of income,” says Olga Castro, 54, of Manhasset, a second-grade bilingual teacher at Powells Lane School in Westbury. Translating English to Spanish and vice versa comes naturally to Castro, who immigrated to the United States from Caracas, Venezuela, at age 18. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in music and a master of science degree in education, both from Queens College in Flushing, with extra credit in bilingual studies. “I love both languages,” she says.

The idea to return to college yet again occurred to Castro after she volunteered to translate documents for her district. She earned a Translation Studies Certificate from Adelphi five years ago. She takes on work pro bono to build a resume for the day when she can charge for her translation services. The certificate has also made her a better bilingual teacher, she says.

Not every certificate program ends with a job placement.

Keith Carpenter, 55, of Brentwood, says he couldn’t find a job after he completed a pharmacy technician certificate program at a Long Island college. So he tried again at Suffolk Community. Advisors tested and interviewed Carpenter, and recommended that he choose a field closer to the associate’s degree in heat, ventilation and air conditioning he had earned from Farmingdale State College.

“When they saw my background in engineering, they wanted to know if I would take this course they had for solar energy,” Carpenter says.

Carpenter, who worked as a disaster relief agent for the Federal Emergency Management Agency after superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, recently completed an Energy Rater certificate.

The new credential qualifies him for a job as an energy auditor for residential and commercial solar power companies. The solar job would pay about $10,000 more than his current position as a manager at an engineering company in Ronkonkoma.

Says Carpenter: “I feel good because I had a couple of interviews and they were very promising.”

Copyright © 2016  Newsday. All rights reserved.


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Newsday: Suffolk County Community College approved to enlist in Start-Up NY program

December 16, 2015 By Rick Brand   rick.brand@newsday.com

Suffolk County Community College, after 14 months of delays, has won state approval to become part of the Start-Up NY program, which provides tax breaks for new high-tech companies that locate on designated college campuses.

Suffolk County Community College, the largest two-year school in the state system, becomes the fourth Long Island college to enlist in the program, which has already attracted 75 colleges statewide, 26 of them community colleges.

The plan for the three-campus Suffolk school calls for three potential landing sites for new companies to locate in, including 71.2 acres on the Selden campus, 7.9 acres at the Brentwood campus and 112,000 square feet of a commercial space in a three-story building that is part of the Wyandanch Rising project in Babylon.

Under the program, new technology companies in a college designated site will pay no state or local taxes for up to 10 years in return for investment, hiring and serving as campus mentors. Their workers also will pay no state income taxes for as long as 10 years.

The state approval came Monday, but the college must still allow for a 30-day comment period to take input from local municipalities, including Islip, Babylon and Brookhaven. However, college officials expect support from local officials.

Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter praised state officials for including Suffolk, which already has a number business-oriented training programs on its Brentwood campus as well as a new $20 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Math building on the drawing board.

“It’s awesome,” she said, “the college is such an important cog in the wheel of economic development, we’re thrilled to have the program in our town . . . and we will do everything we can to assist it.”

The approval comes after the college and the county last year disagreed over what properties should be included in the program as well as other legal issues. At one point, the Bellone administration even threatened to enlist other local colleges rather than its own community college, which has 25,000 students.

“There were some difficulties,” said college spokesman Drew Biondo, “but we have worked through them as is evidenced by our approval.”

Shaun McKay, college president, called the program a “wonderful opportunity” that will also train students to provide the kind of skilled workers that start-up firms need in order to grow.

Biondo said the county’s department of economic development was instrumental in helping fashion the final application and will be key in helping the college market the new program to business.

Joanne Minieri, commissioner of economic development and planning, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. However, County Executive Steve Bellone said in a prepared statement, “This approval will now allow us to actively market and recruit companies to create jobs.”

But officials could not say if any businesses have already expressed interest in joining the year-old program or how they will seek out new companies for the initiative.

With James T. Madore

Source: Newsday

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Newsday OpEd: Set the record straight on community college


A group of students walks across the campus of Suffolk County Community College in Selden on Apr. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Recent criticism of community colleges has prompted some New York policymakers to push for a change in how the state aids community colleges. Critics concerned about graduation rates, for instance, want a portion of state financial assistance to be based on things like degree completion.

But the measurements used by critics are flawed.

Colleges and universities must report annually a variety of statistics to the federal government through a database, the information source used by the Department of Education. Unfortunately, using the data to make policy decisions is shortsighted. The database asks colleges and universities to report on retention, graduation rates, and time to completion. It uses a time period of 150 percent of expected graduation time, or six years after entrance for four-year schools, and three years for two-year schools. In effect, community colleges are held to the same standard as four-year schools and research universities.

The problem is that the institutions are strikingly different. Nationally, 62 percent of students attending community colleges take at least one remedial course before credit-bearing college study — 52 percent in math. Four-year schools, by contrast, seldom offer remedial courses. They can be selective in admitting graduating high school seniors. So,if a graduating senior’s test scores indicate that he or she is not prepared for college-level work, he or she is denied admission.

Community colleges, like Suffolk County Community College, are open-access schools, admitting 99 percent of applicants. Stony Brook University, a four-year school that offers some catch-up help to its students, accepts fewer than 41 percent of its freshman applicants, eventually enrolling 8 percent. About 50 percent of Suffolk’s students attend part time. Only 7 percent of Stony Brook’s undergraduate students attend part-time.

Most community college students work — at Suffolk many work more than 30 hours a week. Not so in four-year schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, fewer than 40 percent of their students have jobs, and many of these students work fewer than 15 hours a week at work-study jobs on campus. At Suffolk, 90 percent of students have jobs with more than 36 percent working more than 35 hours a week. It’s no wonder it has so many part-time students.

Students attending part time and/or who need remedial studies before earning credit, have little hope of finishing studies in three years.

Additionally, the statistics most quoted are graduation rates, but looking solely at graduation rates for community colleges belies an understanding of their mission. For many students, community college is a bridge to four-year schools — sometimes to enhance qualifications for admission, and sometimes to save money on two years before moving to a four-year school. And yet, the percentage of students transferring to four-year schools — a success for a community college — is overlooked. In fact, if, after studying at Suffolk, a student were to transfer to Harvard University, she or he would be counted negatively in our graduation rate.

At Suffolk, by extending the period to evaluate effectiveness to six or even eight years, the number of students either graduating and/or transferring successfully to four-year schools is about 50 percent — despite the many students starting in remedial coursework or going part time. Without these challenges, Stony Brook’s graduation rate, using that same set of criteria, is 89 percent. And measurements do not account for the many students going to community college not expecting a degree, but taking courses to advance at work, or to improve a skill.

Community colleges do amazing work. While the push to use performance measures to determine funding may be understandable, we must make sure those measures make sense, or we could do more harm than good to this vital national resource — the community college.

Theresa Sanders and Jim Morgo are, respectively, chairwoman and vice chairman of the Suffolk Community College Board of Trustees.

Source: Newsday


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One innovation cuts down on remedial courses in college

October 7, 2015 by ANNE MICHAUD / anne.michaud@newsday.com

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A group of students walks across the campus A group of students walks across the campus of Suffolk County Community College in Selden on Apr. 18, 2014. (Credit: Heather Walsh)

Education reformers throw out a frightening statistic to buttress claims that schools need to improve: 40 percent of high school graduates must take remedial courses in college, and at community colleges, that number rises to 62 percent. These high school graduates can’t read, write or do math well enough, so they have to repeat high school work — at college tuition prices.

I’ve always taken that statistic to mean that schools from kindergarten through 12th grade are giving up on kids by letting them graduate without learning. And to some extent, that’s true. But a handful of faculty members from the Hampton Bays school district and Suffolk County Community College have discovered some surprisingly simple solutions.

And it all started five years ago with a backyard and a tray of salmon.

Denise Lindsay Sullivan ’90 was the one with the tray, which she was passing around at the Holbrook home of her father, the late Bill Lindsay. As the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer, he had invited a group that included Suffolk president Shaun McKay. McKay knew that Sullivan was an administrator at Hampton Bays, so as he helped himself to an appetizer, he asked why high school students don’t come to college ready to do math.

Here are some answers. Senioritis; many students don’t take math in their senior year. Forgetfulness; students take pre-algebra and algebra in eighth or ninth grade, so by the time they see it on college placement tests, they no longer remember it. Calculators; the placement tests don’t allow the use of calculators, and kids’ mental math has atrophied.

I’m so in awe of what happened next.

Sullivan, Hampton Bays’ assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, spoke with Theodore Koukounas, academic chairman of Suffolk’s Riverhead campus and a math professor. They looked at what high school graduates needed to know. Then Sullivan put all of the seniors at Hampton Bays High School back into math class unless they had either a 510 in math on the SAT or an 85 percent on the algebra II/trigonometry Regents exam. “That didn’t go over well,” Sullivan said. “Students complained and had their parents calling.”

But many of them had two study halls a day and could easily fit in an extra class, which Hampton Bays arranged as a lab. Sullivan cobbled together resources, bought software and found a way to keep the cost at $35 a student. In 2010-11, 68 percent of Hampton Bays graduates attending SCCC had to take remedial math. By the 2013-14 school year, the district reports that number had been reduced to 26 percent.

In addition, about one-third of Hampton Bays graduates were required to take remedial English at SCCC. So, the high school integrated remedial writing into English classes. Students now prepare a portfolio of work to show readiness for college English.

Jeff Pedersen, a vice president at SCCC, said the changes give students a psychological boost. “When you’re 18 years old, to have to take reading can be very demoralizing,” he said. College students are more likely to complete a two-year degree when they skip remedial classes.

High schools have been put in a difficult spot, Pedersen said, with a larger percentage of students attending college and the pressure to make them “college ready” — a standard for which there’s not a universal definition. As the Hampton Bays-SCCC experience shows, it can be a matter of college and high school teachers talking. At least 12 other districts are conferring with SCCC now.

As political leaders raise the idea of tuition-free community college, the people I spoke with suggested instead a grant program for high schools. “If I had the staff,” Sullivan said, “we could get these remediation numbers even lower.”

Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion.

Source: Newsday

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