LeagueTLC IT Professional Column
Exploring Issues, Innovations,
and New Developments with Information Technology Professionals
In the past, college graduates were
likely to follow a 30- to 40-year single profession career path.
The stability and progression of their success often correlated
with the growth and development of their field of study or profession.
Today, we are witnessing the fastest professional career shifts
ever known. Great changes in higher education and the world of work
have rerouted traditional career paths and reshaped the workforce.
College graduates are now expected to change jobs, if not careers,
an estimated eight to ten times during their lives, and they increasingly
recognize job skill development as a lifelong endeavor. These new
directions call for higher education to provide new services in
new ways. The recently opened Conable Technology Building at Genesee
Community College (GCC) advances the workforce of the future by
connecting community development, fast-paced change, and flexible
Field of Dreams: A Convergence of Needs and Plans
The seeds of the Conable Technology Building project were planted
in 1994 when the Board of Trustees commissioned a Facilities
Master Plan. At the same time, the college--anticipating the
impact of technology and global competition in higher education-initiated
community dialogue and corporate discussions focused on college
growth and service. Evidence of the growing demand for workforce
development came from annual college reports, community development
surveys, service demands from area businesses, and outreach training
The confluence of the Facilities Master Plan and the community
and corporate dialogues manifested itself in 1996 when then Board,
having rejected the $22 million price tag attached to the 1994 plan's
80,000 square feet of new space, commissioned a second plan and
more collaborative approach. This second plan recommended (1) the
construction of a technology building to ease critical space shortages
at the Batavia Campus, (2) training services targeted to meet specific
community workforce needs, and (3) consolidation of the college's
instructional technology services.
The building project received additional support from 1998 data
resources indicating that GCC directly provided skill and academic
development needs to more than 1,850 employees of local businesses
and over 4,000 local students employed throughout the county. That
year GCC also initiated a successful laptop training program, bringing
laptop computers, training programs, and instructors to more than
20 local firms a their work sites. This increase in need for services
translated into a growing need for facility upgrade and development.
Plans for facilities management also converged with growing recognition
that a shift from brick and mortar to digital delivery, distance
education and technological infrastructure would be critical to
the design and function of additional space, and with the realization
that such space did not already exist in GCC's largely rural service
area. No corporate facilities could be renovated to meet college
and community needs since few local corporations had onsite training
space and since interactive distance learning capabilities and high-end
technology resources were even more rare. Local businesses and surrounding
industries looked to GCC to build a place for workforce development
and training services.
If You Build It, They Will Come: Funding the Project
Since the Conable Technology Building's inception, collaborative
efforts and cooperative funding have fueled its development. The
Board of Trustees accepted the revised 1996 Facilities Master
Plan to centralize services and facility development. The plan
was accepted by the State University of New York, and the SUNY Construction
Fund offered to finance half of the $11.4 million dollar project
if the Genesee County Legislature-sponsor of the college-provided
the remaining half of the funding.
To demonstrate support for the new building plan, the Genesee Community
College Foundation proposed a capital fund raising campaign for
the project. The state legislature approved the project in 1998,
and, with community support, the foundation's fund raising efforts
raised $1.65 million. After the foundation's contributions and capital
chargebacks--fees paid by counties across the state to support their
residents' use of GCC--the net cost to the college was estimated
at just $1.9 million.
Focused on community services and development, the new 43,000 square
foot structure is located on the Batavia Campus and houses multipurpose
conference rooms and state-of-the-art computer laboratories for
academic instruction, continuing education, and workforce development
training services. The new innovations the Conable Technology Building
brings to the college include:
- A workforce development laboratory
to provide computer training to employees of area businesses.
The college offers Microsoft Certified Training Programs, and
is a designated Microsoft Authorized Testing Center. In addition,
the college now offers courses and services as a certified Cisco
Regional Networking Academy.
- Conference rooms of varying sizes
used to train managers and employees of area businesses.
- Modern computer laboratories for
academic instruction. Modern hardware gives instructors using
the laboratories the ability to control student computer screens,
displaying examples of work in progress or other teaching materials.
- A 150-seat tiered lecture hall
with laptop computer connections and full videoconferencing capability,
enabling the college to establish audio and video links with other
locations around the world.
- A television studio and control
room used to prepare instructional videos and present live television
broadcasts. The Conable Technology Building is enabling the college
to offer a new multimedia communications program.
- A distance learning classroom
that enables the college to bring live, interactive courses to
students at multiple locations. Using hand-activated microphones
and camera controls, students at all locations can see and hear
- An open computer laboratory where
students can practice computer skills or complete assignments.
The full impact of the technology
building is difficult to measure at this early stage in its use;
however, the spirit and integration of technology, collaboration,
community development, and service outreach stand as hallmarks to
the best of what community colleges bring to the students and workforce
of our future.