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December 27, 2012

 

Year in Review —

College builds, schools capped

New dorm, life center take form

CollegeJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Workers in June construct the foundation of a new SUNY Cortland residence hall at the corner of Broadway and Neubig Road.

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandardnews.net

The two local colleges continued to upgrade or plan upgrades to their buildings in 2012, while finding the ability to add staff after a couple of years when hiring was difficult.
Tompkins Cortland Community College raised its full-time tuition by 5 percent or $200, and faced an 8 percent decline in enrollment in the fall semester. College leaders said the tough economy and tougher academic standards for the college took a toll.
But the college added several faculty, planned two new degree programs connected to a food production program, and received trustee approval for a five-year, $7 million plan to renovate its main building significantly.
SUNY Cortland continued to attract a high number of applicants while planning or executing $120 million in building projects.
The college also benefited from the New York Jets training camp, held on campus in August, which attracted 31,000 visitors to the area. The camp returned after being held in New Jersey in 2011.
The arrival of quarterback Tim Tebow in a trade from Denver caused heightened news media attention, including coverage by ESPN throughout camp instead of the usual two or three days.
Building boom
SUNY Cortland continued its $44 million renovation and expansion of Bowers Hall, the science center, finding room elsewhere for faculty and classrooms.
The college also began the $20 million renovation of Dowd Fine Arts Center, prepared land for the $56 million student life center at the former Carl “Chugger” Davis Field, and proceeded with construction of a $21 million, 228-bed residence hall between Hendricks and Hayes halls and a $24 million upgrade to its electricity generating facility.
The funds for the projects came from the State University of New York Building Fund and the state Dormitory Fund.
The student life center received final state approval after being delayed by neighbors’ objections.
Some residents said it would hurt the quality of life in nearby neighborhoods.
TC3 announced plans to alter its main building in Dryden, moving the Forum lecture and performance hall to the building’s middle, turning the existing Forum into student services offices, and creating six classrooms out of space currently housing student services. The front entrance would be redesigned to be enclosed.
Classroom matters
SUNY Cortland officials said 34 faculty and staff had joined the college in the past year, with searches for 15 to 18 more faculty starting in the fall. That news came after two years of a hiring freeze due to state funding cuts.
The state allowed SUNY four-year colleges to keep a greater share of the increased tuition revenue from 2011.
TC3 said it will create a program called Farm-to-Bistro, which will have new degrees in culinary arts and sustainable farming and food production. The TC3 Foundation purchased 62 acres north of campus, including a barn, for crop production and classrooms. The college will create a new restaurant in Ithaca to go with the courses and its existing restaurant industry courses.
TC3 toughened standards for how students take developmental courses in math and English, after finding that some students were taking the courses without actually pursuing a degree — using up their financial aid as they did. The college said the move contributed to the enrollment drop for the fall.
Community relations
SUNY Cortland and city officials began discussing how to change the culture surrounding the annual Cortaca Jug football game against Ithaca College, which attracts thousands of young alumni and students’ friends but also visitors looking for a party.
This year’s game brought about 10,000 visitors to Cortland, flooding restaurants, bars and other businesses with customers but also leading to hundreds of parking tickets and arrests. Residents complained of rowdiness, people walking in traffic, fights and other disruptions.
The discussions are preliminary and neither the city nor the college have made any decisions.
Mayor Brian Tobin said the cause is that Cortaca has become less about the game itself and more about a party weekend.

 

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