GCC officials hope 'Success Center' plans live up to name

Mar 4, 2015

Plans for expansion BATAVIA — Once plans for two new buildings have materialized, Genesee Community College is to be home to a warm and inviting success center, a thriving event arena and destination for thousands of visitors, spokesman Rick Ensman says. Stressing that they are merely conceptual plans at this point, Ensman displayed architectural renderings of a 9,000 square-foot, two-story site in the circular driveway at the front of campus. Its name Student Success Center embodies the ultimate goal for the place. “We’ll reconfigure services so that in one place there will be all the necessary and important services that students receive,” he said Thursday. “Now you go from office to office ... the success coaching model is when anyone comes in with a need, they will be paired with someone who will walk them through it.” The Center will serve as a one-stop shop for a student’s needs. Services would include admissions, career counseling, financial aid and advisement. It’s not only a different way of delivering services, he said, but “a personal way of delivering services.” Those “coaches” will be qualified, caring and compassionate, he said. Physically, it’s a more efficient use of space. Those vacated offices will go toward instructional needs including classrooms, labs and tutoring areas. There are 56 square-feet of instructional space per student, which is low by state standards. This plan should add some 15,000 square feet of additional space to boost the per student allotment, he said. It will also better accommodate the college’s growing programs of health care and food technology plus whatever demand the STAMP project may bring. Current or prospective students and anyone else with a college-related need will be welcomed at the Center and be able to work one-on-one with what Ensman called a “success coach.” That person will walk the student from beginning to end to find his or her own success. That may mean enrolling in college right away or some time down the road or being referred to professional resources next door at The BEST Center. He has met dozens of people who recounted stories of how fearful they were coming onto campus. It wasn’t about GCC in particular, but about being intimidated by higher education. The student Center will be front and center on campus to help direct newcomers. “Anyone can walk in right now. This just makes it very obvious where to go,” he said. “We’re all about service. Walk through the door and take your first steps toward whatever dreams you have. Education really is the bedrock of the community.” As a first-generation college student, Ensman values his master’s degree from University at Rochester and education in general. It’s a foundation for one’s life, family, career and own civic involvement, he said. JMZ Architects, the same firm that won an award for its design of the Conable Technology building, is to submit final plans in the next 40 to 60 days for the college Board’s approval. If it’s OK, then bids will go out this spring and the construction site will be set up by late summer. The Student Success Center has a target completion date of late 2016 and the Event Center to be done by winter of 2017. Though it began as a much more modest concept of a field house, that plan has mushroomed into an Event Center with 24,000 to 25,000 square feet of open arena space. It’s to house some college coaches, a fitness center and performance lab for sports and athletic training, plus accommodate 2,000 seated guests and thousands more for an informal gathering. The site will serve various athletic needs for college, regional, state and high school sports, trade and professional events and other special happenings requiring a bigger venue. There is no such building available in this region, Ensman said. Plans were preceded by a feasibility study and 65 in-depth interviews of community members, which produced a “very positive” response. “We are so strategically located ... we’re in the ideal position,” he said. “Once it’s up and running we could haver 300,000 to 500,000 people coming to the campus. There will be substantial spill over ... people staying in local hotels, eating in our restaurants and shopping. They will be spending money here.” If all goes well, the Event Center would coincide with the college’s 50th anniversary of when students first attended, he said. It has an estimated price tag of $13.9 million, with the Student Success Center figured to be $5.2 million. The New York State University Construction Fund would pay half of the total costs and Genesee County is responsible for the other half. The college’s Foundation has promised to offset the county’s portion with a $3 million payment over the next five years. “There are a lot of exciting things happening,” he said. “We’re excited about the prospect of having people from out of the region visit.” Article from The Daily News and taken from http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/news/article_e7d00ae6-b8c1-11e4-a593-4b4146041eca.html