Strategic Planning & Partnerships Commission Proceedings by Authority
State of New York,
City of Jamestown ss.:
Police Training Room
The regular meeting of the Strategic Planning & Partnerships Commission of the City of Jamestown, New York was held on Wednesday September 19, 2018 at 8:30 A.M in the Mayor’s Conference Room, City Hall.
Members Present: Co-Chairman Greg Rabb, Co-Chairwoman Kathleen Eads, Marie Carrubba, Justin Hanft, Daniel DeMarte
Others Present: Becky Robbins
Mr. Rabb: Hopefully someone else will come in late. I really apologize Daniel, I thought we would have a better turnout, but sometimes switching meetings causes confusion until people get used to it. Although I’m always switching meetings because my teaching schedule is always changing. When Kathleen and I were talking about – last year we did very well with attendance with all those downtown projects and I was really impressed with the turnouts we were getting and we discussed some really important things. So, we decided to switch our attention this year. August we had the meeting about the Gateway Project that is still up in the air and since Daniel recently joined us, I thought it would be a good opportunity for him to talk to some folks and meet some of our people and tell us about – I put it down as your vision for the future at JCC, but you could even talk to us about how your first few months at JCC has been. It’s pretty wide-open Daniel, and people might have questions for you.
Daniel DeMarte, JCC President
Mr. DeMarte: It’s good to still be meeting people and I expect that’s going to happen at least through the next two to three months. At this point, I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Dunkirk and Olean and my wife and I are renting a house here in Ashville so I’m close by. But, I think that this point I’ve met maybe 350 to 400 individuals in meetings. And again, there are still lots of people to meet. And all of that is helping me form impressions and thoughts on where the future vision of the college is going to be. It’s too soon to know where that is now. I’ve simply not experienced the communities enough. And when it comes time to talk about vision, it’s going to involve obviously a lot more than myself. So, that will come in time. I have confirmed with the board, even before starting, that I essentially have four priorities. Now, it’s more than four, but the four that they have given me include programs, partnerships, resource and vision.
In terms of the programs, we are continually, like any college, looking at viability and currency and so that’s normal. But there are other things in terms of programs that I think we need to spend some time digging into and making sure that we’ve got things designed the right way. In particular, and this bleeds over into partnerships, that will provide a more balanced portfolio of programs. What I mean by that is, if you went onto our website right now, you clicked on the link that said who are you. There’s an obvious missing who are you category, and that’s our employers. So, if you’re an employer looking to JCC for help in programs, aside from our traditional programs, you wouldn’t know where to look. That follows through in everything that we do in the program side and so that priority in terms of programs spilling over into partnerships is recognizing that we’ve got to do a better job connecting, communicating, showing our employers what it is we do to assist them with their workforce needs. So that’s going to get some immediate attention and I’m starting before the end of this calendar year.
And in terms of partnerships, the college I think does a pretty good job in the way that we’ve partnered for 68 years of our history, but the question we should always be asking ourselves is whether or not there is more we can do with our current partners and whether or not there are others who we should be partnering with, but we are not right now. We’ve got some new things going on that are encouraging. We’ve got programming that we’re looking at that’s relatively new with St. Bonaventure and Fredonia and some work with employers; early stages, but definitely some work that we can build on. In terms of resources, we’ve been down in enrollment for at least the last six to seven years. That is not unusual. Most community colleges across the U.S. are down. At a smaller college like JCC we feel the impact of that on a much deeper level then the place I left, for example, which was much larger. So, we’ve got to figure out then, in a climate where we’re losing enrollments and feel the impact of that in the budget, how do we find our way out of this situation. That’s not going to be easy, but I am optimistic that there are ways that we can figure out how to address this. Some of that has to do with programs and partnerships, but it also has to do, I think to some extent, with what we’re marketing and how we’re marketing and where we’re marketing. Workforce marketing is going to get some attention also beginning later this year going into next year.
And then that last area in terms of vision. I shared at our welcome back the last few weeks, if you look at our vision, it looks like any other vision you would look at for a college like JCC. The message there is we sort of blend in. Is that what we want to do? Do we want to blend in? I’m not sure that we do. Part of the reason why I’m not sure is, when I look at what’s happening in Jamestown and in Olean and in Dunkirk, one of the things that I see and I hear is there are varying levels of revitalization that are going on. I’m not sure that what we’re doing internally matches that level of revitalization that I see going on in the communities. So, we’ve got to help figure out what role the college plays in helping to make that revitalization occur. That connects to our vision and where we go in the future as a college.
Ms. Carrubba: I have a question. Has SUNY done anything to indicate with the Excelsior scholarships if there’s been more impact on the community colleges because of the tuition issue? It’s been one year and I believe felt that had some impact that students were going to four-year colleges versus going to community college because of that tuition assistance. I don’t know if they did any data or if there’s anything coming from SUNY indicating that they’ve shifted students in a limited population. I don’t think New York State has seen population growth, especially in our area you’re losing population, but how is that impacting or are you just shifting students who might have gone to community college to a four-year college which is going to impact in the decline of enrollment.
Mr. DeMarte: We’ve not seen any data that shows that. Partly because it’s a little bit early to make that connection. However, there’s lots of speculation out there and there has been reports in the media, stories in the media, that state that very thing; that community colleges are losing enrollments. That the design of the Excelsior program is not hitting the intended audience. The students who come to us, eight out of ten, receive enough TAP and PELL that pays for their tuition. This is a last honor scholarship, but our students need that money towards, not tuition, they need it for other things like transportation and childcare, but that’s not what it’s designed for. We’re aware of that and putting together strategies to address or respond to what Excelsior does, what we’re losing to. And there are ways, I think, that we can do that. We’re in the early stages of discussing, but we’re seeing that pattern and I think that’s exactly – look at the enrollment at Fredonia and Bonaventure, both of them being up; I think in the case of Fredonia, it’s largely because of the excelsior scholarship. Different story at Bonaventure. And we are losing some. Now, last year we had just under 80 students at JCC on excelsior. We’re up over 100 this year. So, in the second year we’re only seeing a little more than we did last year. Another problem with excelsior is, this is not unusual in New York, we see this in other states, we roll out something new with no guidance how to implement this. So, across the 64 institutions, there is no uniformity, there are no guidelines on how to implement the excelsior scholarship. We’re left on our own to figure out how to make that happen. And we’re doing that, but it’s messy.
Ms. Carrubba: We need a big donor to kind of help with the things that we talk about, the food insecurity and other things that many older students, or students with young families are dealing with. We’re not just seeing a student population that are out of high school going to community college, you’re getting older adults who are looking to change careers and they have families and they have other needs. It’s not just a typical student. I think you’re right. I just saw today’s paper, the Buffalo News reported that Project Yes in Buffalo got a multi-million-dollar donation from the Key Bank Foundation to assist high school students, but I think the whole notion is get them to graduate and get them into community college or higher education and they’re looking to fund a lot, but Key Bank Foundation gave a huge donation to them.
Mr. Rabb: The dynamics are somewhat different up there, still working for Buffalo State, because they’re all worried. They’re all down as far as I know because there are so many colleges, public – there’s too many. Erie has rebranded itself as SUNY Erie instead of Erie Community College. That’s their latest attempt to try to pump up their tuition and attendance. I don’t see how that’s going to help. There’s an awful lot of competition out there. I think our major loss often is to SUNY Fredonia and I think could be because of excelsior. That’s what I keep hearing.
Ms. Eads: Can I ask a question? The student population at JCC – I’ve only been here for four and a half years – the student population at JCC is the intent that the majority of them move on to a four-year university or is there a mix? As a local employer, I’m very interested to hear about that.
Mr. DeMarte: It’s, historically, and we’re 68 years old this year, most of what we’ve done is preparation for transfer. We do some with employers, but not enough. And actually, we’ve done quite a bit the last few years, but it’s back to marketing and making sure we’re communicating with employers what it is we offer. And so, we are comprehensive by our own definition which means, it’s transfer, it’s workforce and it’s other things like preparation for college-level work. But, we’ve not invested enough time and resource on that workforce side. So, there’s some potential there. And we’ll shift and try to begin to portray a more balanced – which is what we’re doing, but we’re not communicating. We’ve got Manufacturing Technical Institutes on each campus that’s designed specifically for applied programs and employers. But, we’d be doing a lot more in those spaces than we are.
Ms. Robbins: Is it basically welding or are there other programs?
Mr. DeMarte: It’s welding, we’re launching an HVAC program now and the classes are already fuller than we expected which is good. There are other programs; we’re building a mechatronics program, we offer a couple of industrial programs. Some of them are known, but others are new and others are not known to the extent that they could be.
Mr. Rabb: Do you have a particular need from your perspective at Reg Lenna? For employees who are trained in certain skills that right now you have trouble finding?
Ms. Eads: Yes, we have a lot of issues finding somebody who can count, who can speak, who has presence of mind, self-responsibility. We have a very hard time hiring over there.
Mr. Rabb: And that goes back to a lot of what we do traditionally. I’ve been there for 33 years, I came here and basically still work with students who are preparing to transfer to all kinds of different careers and I’ve had a lot of success with that, but a lot of that is writing, speaking, counting.
Ms. Eads: I just wonder because not everybody is meant to go to college. In my mind, in my other life I worked at a lot of higher ed universities. Not everybody was meant to be there and the role of JCC was great for those kids. If you had financial issues it was great because you could get in there, you could get your GE done and you could move on. But for a lot of kids, that’s all they ever do, that’s all they ever aspire to. Especially if they want to stay in the area. So, I just was wondering how JCC kind of sends people through the pipeline and what they’re encouraged to do and what they’re not encouraged to do. Because it’s hard to – having a community college should be a great opportunity to have a lot of young people learning basic skills. I have no problem training if there’s potential, but there seems to be a disconnect on that. But if it’s primarily two years and you’re off to the four-year, then that makes a lot of sense to me as to why we don’t see a lot of…
Mr. Rabb: I would say it’s both. Historically, and the reason I came here and the reason I stay here, is because I wanted to work in an institution, I was training students to go on to get their bachelor’s, their master’s, their professional degrees. And that’s still what I primarily do, but I get students in my classes who just want to get their associate’s and then go out into the workforce. So, I get both, but I think in terms of what I try to do in the classroom, the education is the same. If you’re going to go on or if you’re going to go right to work, you need to be able to speak and count and all those things that you mentioned, but does Reg Lenna partner with us for interns or anything?
Ms. Eads: Yes. We’re actually having an intern interview today.
Ms. Carrubba: I was going to say about your point, there’s open enrollment and we do have students that require remediation just to get to the level where they need to be to take a college course. So, they remediate for no credit before they can actually – I know even when my kids were in the College Connections program to get advanced college credit, they had to take an exam to prove that they could write and that they could read and interpret and answer questions or they could not participate in the program to get the college credit. The other thing I was going to say, with nursing, we are working on trying to get a four-year degree program, but one of the people who worked at the college talks about before they require the RN degree now because it’s a BSN in ten, you could work as an RN with a two-year degree, so while you were continuing, you actually had an RN license, you could go in, you could work and earn money while you advanced and got your bachelor’s. So, there were avenues like that. But I think to the other point, it’s not uncommon – I hear this from employers, I hear this from other individuals about the kids that are graduating now, in spite of all the requirements and I hate to say it, but I bring it back to the cell phones, they don’t know how to spell because everything’s abbreviated, they’re using shorthand that doesn’t equate to when you’re writing to an audience that you can’t spell you’re UR, but I’m not kidding. I think that’s what it comes down to. I heard somebody talking about productivity that works for big local manufacturing, has worked her way up through to management and said her production, she couldn’t believe when she was talking to an employee about her production rate when she did that job 25 years ago. And the person said well how could you do that and she said I didn’t have a cell phone. That’s what a lot of it is, time spent distracted, just like driving distracted and being on a phone instead of being attentive to the job. So, a lot of the skills you’re talking about are what employers have been complaining about since the revolution of technology, that people don’t pay attention. Seriously, that’s what employers complain about.
Mr. Rabb: That’s a frustration for teachers; put it away. Becky do we, at the BPU, work with any interns from the college?
Ms. Robbins: Yes.
Mr. Rabb: We do, okay. I’m just taking advantage of this opportunity to ask folks.
Ms. Robbins: Social media and we hope to have a graphic design person this semester.
Mr. Rabb: Do you have experiences with interns?
Mr. Hanft: I can just speak to our relationship through the Education Coalition and the Dream to Do It program. We’ve been heavily invested down there at the MTI building and with the Manufacturer’s Association for several years now to try to really turn student’s perception on those types of careers. So, we’re talking about trying to create better relationships between college and employers, but also changing the perception of students on a type of occupation that they think is dark, dirty and dangerous and doesn’t pay very well, which is completely the opposite. And there are readily available, good paying jobs here in the county. And that’s something that you don’t just change overnight, but we are creating stronger relationships in that space and I think there’s definitely an opportunity right now to strengthen those relationships, to close the doors of getting some things in and I think the pipeline is definitely in a better place, primed so to speak, then it was probably five, ten years ago. Because students weren’t even – there was just the natural culture of our K-12 institutions to just – you had to get that four-year degree whether it was attainable or not. You just thought that that was the only path. I think we’re slowly starting to change the curve on that thought process here locally and opening the minds of students of maybe that’s not right for me and maybe I’m not even interested in that. And if that’s the case, that’s all we’re trying to do through the Education Coalition and Dream It, Do It is to provide a window to multiple different opportunities and hopefully help students make the right choice that’s right for them.
Ms. Carrubba: I think Sue MacNamara started that with, I can’t think of her name, probably about ten, twelve years ago when they started reaching down into the middle schools to get the middle schoolers to start looking at that because they said if you wait until high school, ninth and tenth is too late. You need to introduce these kids to – if you like to work with your hands, if you like to figure things out, this might be an avenue for you and I think you’re right. Kids weren’t encouraged to looking at they’re very good with doing things and visualizing things. They used to take them down to the plants in Erie to show them and it was impressive to see what manufacturing looks like today, versus what it was back in the early 1900s.
Mr. DeMarte: How many students in the schools participated in STEM Wars this year?
Mr. Hanft: STEM Wars, this past year we had over 750. The year before that, we’ve struggled the last few years with weather, but we’ve had to reschedule the date two years in a row, but the year before that we had over 900, in one day. It’s not just a job fair. It’s an active, engaging – we have over twenty different science, technology, engineering and math competitions that these students are preparing for six weeks ahead of time. They’re working in their classrooms, it’s a part of their curriculum that they’re preparing for and then they get to demonstrate their aptitude in front of 35 to 40 different businesses in the area. So that’s a great one-day event, but more so than that, I think we’re trying to consistently establish that relationship with the schools, and JCC and the employers to get our employers in front of and develop relationships with kids at an earlier age so we can start creating things like job shadowing or internships or mentoring opportunities and then hopefully they see an interest and go to JCC and get their either certificate or two-year degree and enter right into the workforce here locally. That’s kind of the game plan. It’s a long-term approach.
Mr. DeMarte: We’re going to every other Friday or every Friday bringing students through MTI.
Mr. Hanft: Yes, Dream It Do It is trying to help support some of that with MTI and those types of programs.
Ms. Robbins: And you’ve also started, at least we did a tour for middle school technology club came and went through our wastewater treatment plant. So, it seems like those are afterschool clubs to get students to think of technical jobs.
Mr. Hanft: Jamestown High School has been a great partner as well. Their curriculum as a school district sort of aligns nicely with Dream It Do It as a program, because they have the academy model. Their school, itself, is trying to encourage or incentivize students to start to make career decisions at a much earlier age. So, in eighth grade, they sit down with their school counselor or their grade level instructor to say, okay, if I’m going to choose these classes, here’s why I’m choosing these classes because they lead to these types of occupations. I could think back, I graduated high school back in 2004 and we didn’t have those conversations, those didn’t happen. You just sat down with your school counselor, you chose some classes, you had no idea what sort of that pathway led to, so I think those types of things are starting to help students to think, oh, there is an endgame for this whole thing and I’m not just taking courses just to take courses.
Mr. DeMarte: Having left Virginia, we had lots of students who were finishing the technical programs and making more money than our faculty who were teaching them.
Ms. Eads: I wish I had become an electrician, I’ll tell you that.
Mr. DeMarte: There was another reality that we don’t talk about. I’ve heard from employers for the last 25 years; the soft skills and the students were not coming in prepared. Well, part of that story is we’ve got a generation of kids, especially in rural areas, that don’t know work ethic because their parents have no work ethic. And part of the reason for that is we’ve offshored these jobs for the last three or four decades. So, we can’t turn on a dime and assume that the generation that hasn’t seen a work ethic that we’re going to get them up to speed overnight and fill these jobs. We’ve got to be in 8th grade, 7th grade and 6th grade exposing them. We’ve got to have apprenticeships and get them on the shop floor and see that it’s not what their father’s shop floor looked like. We and some success with scholarships with women in STEM programs. We announced a scholarship program that filled and then we had donors knocking on the door wanting to pay for the next set of them coming through. So, those kinds of things I think have potential here.
Ms. Eads: Does JCC reach out to middle schools? Do you have recruiters?
Mr. DeMarte: We do. We are in most of the high schools in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegheny County with College Connections. There’s still room there and College Connections is limited to high school students, but there are other activities going on that help us reach into the middle schools.
Ms. Carrubba: It’s interesting that you say that because I’ve heard employers say that I need people show up every day, ready to work; I can train them, I can teach them, but I need them to show up. I hear from people who tell me that kids just walk off the job. they don’t even quit, they don’t say I’m not coming back, they just leave. And it’s like, where did we lose this responsibility to give notice, you show up, you’re there on time, you’re there to do the job, not do everything else but. And so, I think you’re right. The employers have been talking about this for probably about 15 years that I’ve been aware saying I can teach them the job, I need them to show up and be there. It’s the soft skills that are killing us – that they don’t get, and you’re right, it’s coming because they haven’t seen people get up in spite of the fact that if you don’t feel really great today, you go to work, you don’t call off, you don’t call off unless you absolutely have to. It’s the same thing with attendance at schools. It starts there. If you don’t show up…
Mr. DeMarte: I’ve debated with my wife all the time on this; a deadline’s not a deadline. They learn that for 18 years before they come to us. A deadline is not important. Showing up on time is not important.
Ms. Eads: Do you have a significant number of certificates that you offer in lieu of an AA or in addition to?
Mr. DeMarte: We do. They’re going to go through a redesign this coming year. They’re okay. We can do better with certificates. We should have students moving through those certificates in one to two semesters and being able to get a pretty good job coming out of it and then when they’re ready come back and plug in what they’ve completed with us right on the track without missing a step. We’re doing okay there, we can do better.
Ms. Eads: Do you have any plans for the hospitality, culinary side of the tracks?
Mr. DeMarte: They’re not programs. There are things that I see that I’m beginning to question why don’t we have these programs. This area has been an agricultural area for a long time. Agriculture’s not the same. We don’t offer anything in agriculture. I didn’t know this. I was at the Harbor Hotel last weekend walking around. I think it’s great what they’ve done with the videos for the comedy center. I’ve not seen a hotel do that. Anyway, I’m walking around and I see these signs on the wall with a Ferris wheel from the 1950s. I didn’t know that this was a destination in the 50s. I don’t know we’re still not a destination or we haven’t gone back to that, but the point is we’re still a destination, we’ve got a new hotel, we’ve got another one coming online. We don’t have any tourism or hospitality or culinary. Why? So, yes, we’re going to be taking a hard look at where we don’t have programming. There may be a reason for that. I don’t know what it is yet, but there’s culinary, hospitality, tourism, agribusiness, if that’s where we need to focus. We’ve got a Cummins plant here and we don’t do anything with diesel. Maybe that has to do with what’s done at the plant, I haven’t toured it yet, but I’m wondering why we don’t have anything with diesel in the MTIs. Again, there may be a reason. So, there are some that jump out at me and I wonder why aren’t we in these areas.
Mr. Rabb: Speaking of tours, has Daniel either gone to the electric plant or my favorite, the wastewater treatment plant? That’s one of my favorites. It’s interesting, I’ve been on the board for 11 years and I’ve never been in the electric plant. In terms of getting students excited about careers.
Mr. DeMarte: Clean energy is another area.
Mr. Rabb: We started to have some discussion about that and I was glad to see that you have an interest in that. And I’m glad you said partnerships; one of the reasons we have this commission, and again, I apologize for low attendance today, but there are a lot of us active in the community that are so busy with what we’re doing. I know Kathleen is incredibly busy and she says she’s new, but four and a half years isn’t new anymore. She’s very involved in the community and I think the college has tried to be out there, but I appreciate the fact that you say we can do even better because after our last survey through Director Coordinators Day and I was asked what do you think we could do on a Coordinators and Directors Day, and I said we need to work more at being better connected to the community. I’m connected because of all my public roles, but I remember even when we doing the playground project, several people joined me; obviously Marie was there, I was there, but Eileen Goodling came and Kayla Crosby came and Sean came from physics and I thought that this is a great way to show yourself in the community because I think sometimes, and people don’t see me as JCC, they see me as all kinds of other things, but I think we still have more to do to connect in the community. And even with some of the questions you asked, and I don’t have the answer for how to do that, but I like the idea if there was a club or a group or a class going down to look at the wastewater treatment plant or the electric plant.
Ms. Robbins: We’ve had engineering students come and tour. The power plant, we have advanced Jamestown High School students that are serious about physics, they come. We did have a few JCC students, but that’s all we’ve had so far.
Mr. Rabb: And I like the fact that you brought up agriculture because it’s extremely important in this county.
Ms. Carrubba: Tour some of the farms, even in Randolph, they’re all technology-related. They know how much each cow milks and how much they produce and I can tell you what, when they stop producing, they end up as ground beef. You can see how it’s all technology-related. To make money in farming anymore, and even with all of the technology, I couldn’t believe it. I grew up in a farm area so I saw what it was like and just to see how each animal is regulated and how they know everything about that animal and that’s all technology-related. So, if you’re thinking that you don’t have to have any background – they need college to do what they do and to make any money in farming anymore. To produce and make it sustainable. Farmers have a rough go.
Mr. DeMarte: My oldest brother in Allegheny County sold his dairy farm last year and the unpredictability from month to month is just too much. At the same time, he was asked to join a committee at Alfred State that’s looking at hemp and the research they’ve done in hemp. There may be something there in terms of agriculture that isn’t on our radar right now that could be.
Ms. Carrubba: If you look at the way technology is going with agriculture, they’re producing – it was just on 60 Minutes the other night, how they climate-control everything and they can keep these crops producing year-round and you don’t need dirt and you don’t need soil of any kind, you just provide the right atmospheric conditions within these contained units and you get a better product and it’s cheaper and it can produce. They were showing cotton and tomato plants and different fruits that they harvest that you can keep the plant continually producing food or product year-round. It doesn’t matter that it’s only once a year that you get the products. The technology is coming and we’re going to see a whole shift in how food is produced.
Ms. Robbins: Wegmans does that actually; a couple stores.
Ms. Carrubba: The hydroponic – over on Pine Street, is it the Bio Dome Project? They’re doing it on a large scale because they think this is what we’re going to need to do, especially in areas where you don’t have water, you don’t have the right conditions like in the Middle East.
Ms. Robbins: I was curious as to what else you were going to say. We got way off track.
Mr. DeMarte: I’ll have more in time.
Mr. Rabb: He’s only been here 8 weeks. I told Daniel he gets one free week from me and then the rest of the time I’m going to be pestering him as long as I’m still here.
Mr. Hanft: Can you speak to the new programs that you’re referring to with St. Bonaventure and SUNY Fredonia or are those still in idea-phase?
Mr. DeMarte: Fredonia is called Destination to a Dream and I think we’re in our second or third year there. It’s designed for students who aren’t quite ready to start at Fredonia, so they live on the Fredonia Campus in their dorms, but they take classes with us, getting ready for Fredonia. That’s relatively new and that I think will continue to grow. And then with St. Bonaventure, there’s a program that will be announced, I hope before the end of the calendar year called SBU Plus and that’s an attempt to streamline the process for students who want to go to St. Bonaventure starting with us. Streamline the entry process, allow them an opportunity to live on campus and get the university experience especially when we don’t have the university experience, that’s beginning to happen as well. So, we’re narrowing down a list of programs. I think we have maybe 7 or 8 that have been identified where we’ve got this pathway a little clearer, a little more defined for those students who know that they want to leave us and go on to Bonaventure. We have 14 students who are living in Fredonia and Bonaventure residents’ halls, JCC students this semester.
Ms. Robbins: How are the dorms on the main campus here in Jamestown? Are they working out?
Mr. DeMarte: They’re beautiful facilities. With our declining enrollment we have not been at capacity for at least the last two to three years. We have had an uptick this last year. We have thirty more students this fall in residence halls than we had last year. Still lots of room for growth. And we have seen an uptick in out of state and international students. So, part of what needs to change for us, we live in an area where population is not growing, but we can and we do have the ability to attract students from outside of the area. We’re going to need to do more of that. That’s partly why I think St. Bonaventure is growing They’ve introduced some new programs and it’s attracted the attention of students from outside the area.
Ms. Carrubba: In the past you’ve had students from Russia and Australia.
Ms. Robbins: And Sweden.
Mr. Rabb: We still have a lot of Russian students.
Ms. Carrubba: That’s what I know from the past year because I met the students. I’m just saying it’s very different than what you’d expect. I don’t think most people in the community know we’ve got students coming from that far out of the area.
Ms. Robbins: And from Japan, I’ve met…
Ms. Carrubba: Yes. I was just thinking there were two women that were very involved in the college community.
Mr. Rabb: I always have a Russian student in my American Politics class because they’re required to take the course. I think it’s fascinating to have their comments. I try to not put them on the spot with Mr. Putin and the Russian situation. Occasionally they’ll volunteer information. But they’re fascinated by what we do and how bizarre sometimes it seems. And I enjoy doing that so it’s fun to have them in class.
Ms. Carrubba: I don’t think the general public knows the diversity of the students outside the area. That’s what I mean.
Mr. Rabb: I think JCC has good connections with the community, it’s very highly regarded, but I think the advantage of having somebody like you is that you get to look at it in a way that I can’t, I’ve been there too long. So, I think to find other ways to get the message out and connect with other people I think is extremely important. I was just going to say on the hospitality, tourism and culinary, because I’ve been there so long, I know we’ve done research on those more than once and more than once because when I was Dean, I was involved in the tourism stuff and we finally made a decision at that time not to do it. Which, I’m not saying we shouldn’t look at it again because things may have changed, but we have from time to time looked at those things. And culinary is so expensive because of the equipment that that becomes a challenge. I would say it’s time to look at stuff a second time, a third time, maybe this is the time.
Ms. Eads: I asked because just second-hand, through the rumor mills, yes, we have all these great new hotels and they can’t hire anybody. They’re looking for maids, let alone people who can work a front desk and act as a concierge. Chautauqua wants to go full-time year-round, I don’t know how they’re going to do attracting appropriate staff. Certainly, the Reg struggles. With what we want to do here, we have to have the employees to do it. We can build all these great DRI projects that we want, but if we don’t have anybody that can actually work that – that’s why I say it’s okay for people to say out loud if you don’t go to college. If you could get a certificate in hospitality or tourism and stay here and live and grow with all of these organizations that need those talents. I think that that is just as respectful.
Mr. Rabb: Absolutely. Even if you get the two-year degree with the certificate. We do a lot of the soft skills in all of our classes and I have students making presentations, even though sometimes they’re not very good, I want them to have the practice. Stand up in front of us and talk and present. We do this all the time – that’s all I do, so it’s like what’s the big deal? You forget, one time it was a big deal.
Ms. Carrubba: But the issue you’re speaking to is all over. If you need direct care, which is front line staff, every organization is really hurting for people. I hear it from The Resource Center, I hear it from anybody in health care, the hospital, home care, all of those hands-on jobs where you don’t need a degree, but they do have certificates for home health aides and everything else, but they can’t find people. It’s very difficult. It’s a high-demand job, it’s intense and they’re really desperate to try to find people to fill the openings.
Mr. Rabb: And part of the role of this commission is to make recommendations to various entities, whether it’s the city, the college, but then to also hear from people and build more of these connections. I think there’s a lot of stuff that we can still do. Especially before you get totally absorbed in everything you’ve got to do, get you while you’re fresh. One of the things that, and I know you started to talk about this a little bit Daniel, but at least from the perspective of the faculty, because we’re on the front line with these students every day and people often say have you noticed a change with your students, since I’ve been here so long. I think people are going to say, like the effect of cell phones, which I’m not discounting Marie, or other skills. But what I have found in my time here is all the stuff on the outside that’s interfering with our kids, our students. And by that, I mean, a lot of my students have trouble feeding themselves, have trouble getting to class because of transportation. When people say what’s the biggest change in 33 years, it’s I don’t remember having kids with all of these problems. And childcare; we lost our childcare center because someone decided it was not core to our mission. I think it was a big mistake. Those of us in the faculty are still saying we need to look at these things because skills I can work on. You come to class, I can help you read and write and learn and speak and all these other things that Kathleen was talking about. There was a coach on NPR the other day and they said what’s the most important thing you do with your students. He said, I teach them to win games. But he said they can’t win games if they can’t get to campus and they can’t feed themselves. And that resonated with me. Some of my colleagues, we have done that. I remember a kid was at my house for something and he had no food to go home to so I emptied out the cupboard and I said take this, but I don’t think that’s a good way to do it and we have the food locker and all that, but I think that’s what I’ve noticed the most. These kids can’t begin to learn because they’ve got so much insecurity in their lives and if you can’t feed your child, you’re not going to come to class, you’re going to stay home and try to feed your baby. I understand that and I think that’s something we need to look at more closely.
Mr. DeMarte: Yes, and one a related topic, Tom Reed brought an Uber executive to campus a couple of weeks ago. Uber, apparently, is looking at solutions in rural areas for transportation, building a model, they’ve got something going on in another part of the country. I was listening to this conversation thinking there’s application of that, not just business to business in a rural area like this, but also getting individuals to campus, maybe using financial aid to access programs. Another issue here, and I don’t know the answer to this, I’ve heard varying perspectives on it. I’ve been driving back here a couple of times a year to visit family. I’ve said this to the chancellor that it’s nice that I don’t have a good connection and my inbox isn’t pinging constantly when you’re on vacation. Well, now that I’m here, that’s not a good thing. Not for me personally, but our students don’t have access. And so, I read that there’s a statewide effort, broadband effort coming out of the governor’s office to address this. I don’t know how it’s being addressed. I heard it’s stopped and Spectrum’s been part of the solution and they’ve been on and off the fence. In the meantime, the connections aren’t working. What can we do that’s bigger than the college? What can we do to help make that happen? One of our positive numbers in terms of growth is online. Many of our students have to come onto campus and go to a lab to get access to a course online which defeats the purpose. What can we do to make sure that there is broadband connection here in the rural areas especially?
Mr. Rabb: And that’s something, obviously, the college alone can’t solve, but I think being on your radar and being on the commission’s radar, that’s something that we need to address. A lot of times I’m happy when I lose cell phone service, but last fall I was trying to go to a birthday party for a former student’s little girl out in Panama and of course you get me outside the city and I might get lost, but I get to Panama and I couldn’t call them because there was no cell phone service. And it was an Amish place so they didn’t have a light on their sign. But it would have been nice to have a cell phone, so then I’m thinking wow, there are places in our service area where they don’t even get cell phone service, let alone broadband. I think if we’re going to continue to do what we’re doing, when you talk about students that have to come onto campus to do an online class if it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.
Mr. Hanft: Even by Cummins. One of the largest employers in the county and you can’t get very good cell service there. 7200 people go to work where there’s no cell service.
Ms. Carrubba: Frewsburg isn’t that far and they have issues with cell phones.
Mr. Hanft: Mentioning Uber and online connectivity kind of brings in another thought. I deal with employee benefits and beyond health insurance and things like that and some employers are starting to do more to address a younger employee group is remote working and instead of an 8 to 5 shift, work your 8-hour deal, but work it when you want to. So, for the college correlation of the on-demand classes instead of a 9:00 am class, more online activity, distance learning, etc. Do you see that being something that the college is going to focus more on in the future as well, getting out of the traditional classroom?
Mr. DeMarte: Yes. However, this is the fourth college I’ve worked at that is different in this regard. Every college I’ve been at, up to this one, the demographic makeup has been roughly two thirds part time, one third full time. Here it’s just the opposite. It’s three quarters full time, one quarter part time. Now, I think part of the response to that is that we could have more students on that part time track if we had better connections online and had more on demand. But, historically, with three quarters of our population full time and on campus and the traditional aged college student, the issue is a little bit different here than it has been other places. We need to be looking at it – not just from the student perspective. One of the surprises to me at the picnic last week, and I sort of saw this a little bit in the interview, but not to the extent that I did last week, it’s a pleasant surprise and a very good thing that a large portion of our employees are in that millennial age group. It’s an employee perspective too. It hasn’t come up, I haven’t heard it come up, but that’s a huge asset to the college to have a millennial population that size that wants to be here, they’re engaged in the college, they’re committed to what they want to do and it’s across all ranks; staff, faculty. That was a decision point for me coming here. It was one of the factors that was exciting for me to see. So, yes, I’m aware of that. I think it may be more of a staff issue there than a student issue.
Mr. Hanft: Even Uber, it’s an on-demand job. I turn on the app when I want to work, I turn it off when I don’t.
Ms. Carrubba: That’s what one of the research centers is to change shifts and get outside the box or going to 12-hour shifts to cover with few people so that they know they’re scheduled, instead of having to be called in or having to stay unexpectedly when now you’ve got to scramble to arrange childcare or a ride or whatever. If you’re a one-car family, you’ve got to be home at a certain time because they’re leaving for a different shift time. You can’t stay over, you can’t leave either, so they’re going to alternative solutions. It’s not a traditional time slot, they’re going to alternatives which staff would embrace. For some people to have three or four days off in a row versus working a traditional 5-day a week job. Some people prefer it. I think hospitals started that a long time ago, doing 3 12-hour shifts to be full-time and then you get three or four days off in a row.
Mr. Hanft: The other thing is three weeks on, three weeks off.
Mr. Rabb: Or you can be a faculty member where my teaching schedule, but most of my work is done 7 days a week because you can’t keep up otherwise.
Ms. Carrubba: There are a lot of jobs where even though you’re traditionally…
Mr. Rabb: That’s one of the reasons I enjoy my job. I have to meet my class schedule and then all my other work I do when it’s best for me. If I want to go in Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon, I like that.
Ms. Carrubba: In the tech field that’s what they’ve had to go to because they can’t keep the people – the younger people have expectations that are much greater than anything I know when I went to work.
Mr. Hanft: Not to throw more programming ideas, but kind of bringing this back to the workforce side of things and the connection with the college to employers. You may have employers in the area that understand that that’s a changing dynamic in employee life, that they need training as how to be managers of that flexible schedule.
Mr. DeMarte: Back to the point you made earlier, I was in my first MAST meeting earlier this week and one of the employers was sharing how he’s working with a company in Buffalo for some employee training and having to send them to Buffalo. So, they’re down here, the training’s necessary. I sent him an email this morning, how many people know, for example, that we’ve been partnering with the UB center for industrial training. We’ve been doing that for the last three to four years on different topics, but we’re bringing the training right here for the employers. He shouldn’t have to do that, I don’t know that he knows we’re doing this. If it’s something that we’re not doing right now, we’ll find a way to get it or create it so we can deliver onsite. So, that’s part of the issue. Things come up and there should be a way or a place to share that and then we figure out how to do it.
Mr. Hanft: The college offers a lot of training for employers, employees. The Chamber, MAST took advantage of Word and Excel, just the basic stuff. There are a lot of products that you offer to what their current employees are doing, not just the new interns.
Mr. DeMarte: Share all the new ideas. Don’t hold back.
Mr. Rabb: We have the new cohort program for people who are employed trying to get their Associates Degree and I know, because I’ll be teaching two of those classes later in the semester, it’s from 8:00 at night until 9:45 at night. That’s when it’s convenient for them to do it, so we do it and it helps with enrollment. I just call it the cohort program where it’s people who are already employed who are trying to finish their associates because they may have started and for whatever reason didn’t finish. We do that in Jamestown, Dunkirk and Olean.
Mr. DeMarte: That’s the Career Advantage Program.
Mr. Rabb: It’s the Career Advantage Program, yes. It’s a new initiative and I think it’s a great way to help people improve their skills, get an education. It requires faculty to be flexible. One of the reasons we have this commission is – I’ve heard a whole bunch of stuff here today that I didn’t know and since you’re new to the campus, not necessarily to the area, I think it was really helpful to have you talk to us and listen to people and we can build even more connections. I don’t know if you have anything else to say Kathleen?
Ms. Eads: I don’t, no. It was very enlightening. And thank you so much for coming.
Mr. Rabb: Yes, I just wish we had more of our folks here, but part of it I think is switching it to Wednesday because of my teaching schedule. Thank you, Daniel.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Todd M. Thomas, Director of Administrative Services/ City Clerk