Thursday, July 25, 2024

CCC progresses in campus move


By Carly Newton

Carly Newton is a staff writer for the Press-Republican.

Clinton Community College President John Kowal says its accrediting agency has granted permission to submit a substantive change request for campus relocation.

This was a big step toward making the college’s relocation plan, which would move all campus operations to SUNY Plattsburgh by the 2025-2026 academic year, a reality.

“This was the first hurdle we had to get over, and we succeeded,” Kowal told CCC’s board of trustees April 30.



CCC first announced its plans to relocate in January.

The accrediting agency — Middle States Commission on Higher Education — waited before giving CCC permission to file for relocation until they had more information about the plan from the SUNY system, Kowal said.

Kowal said the SUNY system provided Middle States with a five-page report about the plan. He said he learned through the report that after a space analysis is completed, SUNY Construction Fund is prepared to allocate $1.3 million to commence the design phase and the rehabilitation of a building or buildings. These funds are also supported by a broader $8 million construction budget, Kowal said.

“So we’re talking serious dollars that they’re willing to invest to make this work,” Kowal said.



In the coming months, the college will have to get over another hurdle with Middle States as it attempts to move the campus to SUNY Plattsburgh.

This hurdle stems from June 2022, when insufficient financial resources for maintaining desired educational quality led to Middle States placing CCC on a “non-compliance warning.”

This designation meant Middle States had “identified one or more areas in which the institution does not meet Commission standards for accreditation, requirements of affiliation, policies and procedures, or federal compliance requirements,” the agency’s website outlined.

Since then, the college has been under pressure to improve its financial situation or risk worsening its status to probation or even having their accreditation terminated, which would potentially force the college to close its doors.

CCC had a crucial report about its status with Middle States in January and presented the relocation plan, which is expected to generate significant cost savings for the college, to the agency then.

Kowal said that despite some “hiccups” that occurred, Middle States had a positive enough response to the plan.



Kowal said a decision on the institution’s accreditation status will now come in June. In his opinion, he expects the college’s status, which they have one year left on, to stay the same.

“They’re not going to say they’re reaffirming our accreditation, because there isn’t enough information to demonstrate that our financial challenges are being met with certainty with the move, because it’s way too early,” he said.



What CCC is trying to do — relocate its campus to a nearby four-year institution — would be the first of its kind in New York.

As colleges continue to close around the nation and the state — most recently, Wells College announced it would be closing at the end of this spring semester — CCC leaders knew they had to get creative in addressing their strained financial situation.

“Because it’s the first in the state that really made this type of bold, progressive move, we’re hoping that they’ll at least be understanding of that, instead of just sitting idle and saying, ‘Well, we keep going and we close up in a year or two,’ or ‘We do something like this and we need you to work with us,’” CCC Board Chair David Favro said. “That’s why sometimes, it’s good to get out on the cutting edge, be first and pave the road to let everybody else follow it.”

Now, as the college looks to submit the substantive change request in the near future, Kowal said it will have to prove it can meet the standards the Middle States Commission has outlined.

“We have to provide clear evidence that we will meet those standards in our new location,” he said.

That change request, however, likely won’t be reviewed until the fall, after Middle States makes a decision on the college’s accreditation status.

“I don’t think that’s going to be a really big problem,” Kowal said.

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