Walk into the Cayuga Community College Fulton Campus and you can feel the vibrancy and hear the buzz of activity all around. The bold colored partitions and walls transform the former vacant storefront into a dynamic space. The campus features a progressive Learning Commons, a central hub that brings together the Library, computers, academic success resources, and flexible work spaces for students to study and receive support on their assignments and research projects.
On a typical day, student organizations set up tables in the main walkway to sell pizzas, recruit new members, or promote their clubs. External organizations, including four-year colleges, health and human service agencies, and employment recruiters, draw students to their displays with give-aways, useful information, and engaging conversation. A student with time to spare between classes strums on his guitar, and others chat with friends and rehash their answers on the pop quiz.
On the other side of the partial wall sits Associate Vice President and Fulton Campus Dean Maggie Killoran, who swapped her office with a door and ceiling for the smaller, noisier cubicle so staff members who speak with students about confidential matters could find some privacy.
Campus growth demands larger facility
Classrooms are booked at 100 percent nearly every day from sun-up to sundown. Due to physical space limitations and the number of campus sections offered, many students turn to online course offerings. In the last 10 years, our enrollment at the Fulton Campus has nearly doubled from approximately 690 to 1,260 students.
To say this campus is bursting with possibilities would not be an overstatement. That’s why the entire campus community is thrilled with the Cayuga County Legislature’s recent approval of the purchase of the former P&C Foods building in the River Glen Plaza and the adjacent 45 acres of undeveloped land for our planned expansion of the Fulton Campus.
We have done much more than “make do” with the space limitations at the current campus, and the students and staff take pride in all they accomplish and in the strong sense of community there. However, we can all see how much more might be accomplished in a larger, more accommodating space.
Growth expected to continue
We expect that we’d be better able to serve the 58 percent of Oswego County residents 25 years and older who don’t hold a college degree, or the 90 percent of high school graduates in Oswego County who could benefit from beginning their college experience at our affordable, high quality Fulton Campus. Keep in mind that Oswego County (121,395) is 52 percent larger than Cayuga County (79,823), so the opportunities for student enrollment growth there are exceptional.
This campus also has a regional draw, with students not only from Oswego, but also from northern Onondaga and eastern Wayne counties regularly attending classes in Fulton. Cayuga County receives from those counties approximately $2,000 for each student toward operating expenses and an additional $300 for each student that is earmarked for capital projects.
Fulton Campus Expansion: Good for Entire College
While Cayuga County bonds for the total cost of the $11 million-plus move, the county recoups the total price through a 50-percent reimbursement from the state, and the remaining 50 percent from the College. The College will use the out-of-county capital chargeback fees, fund-raising by the College Foundation, and funds from our coffers to pay back Cayuga County. So, we truly see this as a beneficial project for the College, Cayuga County, and residents and students in all the surrounding counties as well.
The College will also occupy the Fulton Commons space for at least the next five years when our lease expires. We expect to expand our offerings of credit-free community education courses and workforce development programming for the 28 largest employers in Oswego County as well as other smaller companies.
New Campus Enables College to Better Meet Student Needs
But most importantly, our new campus will enable us to better serve our students.
The College will be able to offer more campus sections of popular classes to better meet the needs of our students through more and larger classrooms and computer labs. Student clubs will have their own space to hold meetings and events. The College will be able to offer students recreational areas, athletic facilities, and lounge and informal spaces.
The new campus also addresses a range of practical considerations for the College, including such areas as adequate restroom facilities, a highly visible entrance that is controlled by a traffic light, more parking, and service drive/fire lane that provides access to the perimeter of the building.
By purchasing our own building, the College has more control over everything from facility design and signage to our ability to expand. Ultimately, we see owning the space as a way to better control our costs and better serve our students and community members.
We believe this move—the fourth in the Fulton Campus history—will enable the College to grow in a thoughtful, well-planned progression in the coming years.
This article first appeared in the May 9, 2011, issue of The Citizen in Auburn, N.Y.