The word “community” in the name of our institution is not an afterthought or an irrelevant add-on. ECC has always been rooted in the neighborhoods of Western New York, and the ECC that is emerging is one that is actively engaged with the residents of our towns and cities. Engagement works both ways, of course, and just as we seek the support of our legislative and industry partners we also know that we cannot isolate ourselves from the life of our communities. To fully engage in the life of our communities the college will pursue the following initiatives:
As a leader in forging connections between non-credit offerings and academic programs, ECC will continue to build non-credit-to-academic pathways and strengthen partnerships with regional development agencies like the Regional Economic Development Council of Western New York. Combined with its focus on alternative energy through the Green Building Technology Center and on automotive technology through its Vehicle Technology Training Center, ECC will continue to lead the way in connecting qualified workers with local employers.
ECC was born in the relatively small Pierce Arrow administrative building 70 years ago, grew into a large suburban institution in 1960, expanded that campus in 1968, and built two new campuses in the early 70s. The move to the Old Post Office in the early 80s, followed by additions at 45 Oak and Flickinger Center, grew the college’s footprint significantly. These expansions have been welcome, but they have also physically separated our staff and sometimes make it difficult to generate meaningful engagement. ECC will address this deficit by building collaborative spaces for our students, finding office space for our dedicated but underpaid adjunct faculty, and creating low-cost but dynamic opportunities for professional development that make use of the staff and faculty expertise that already exists at the college.
ECC is already engaged in the cultural and physical spaces of its communities, but this engagement is not always managed or nurtured. The college is not merely another resident or stakeholder in Western NY: it is, rather, the keeper of a solemn promise by the State of New York to provide everyone with access to a quality education. As such, ECC will act as the gateway to that promise. To do so it will pursue an aggressive philanthropy campaign and also offer itself as a cultural and knowledge hub to its community partners.
In addition, Erie Community College will make a strong investment in applied learning during the next five years. We will study and implement service learning opportunities, internships, and new approaches to career services.