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Clinton Community College announces plan to co-locate on SUNY Plattsburgh campus

The main building of Clinton Community College sits atop a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain
Pat Bradley
/
WAMC
The main building of Clinton Community College sits atop a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain

Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, New York has been located on a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain since 1969. But Wednesday, officials announced a plan to relocate its programs, faculty, and students to the nearby SUNY Plattsburgh campus.

Enrollment at the community college in northern New York has declined from a high of 2,249 students in 2012 to a low of 994 in the 2022-23 academic year. The college says first year full-time enrollment in the fall of 2023 was down 7.1 percent and a significant portion of those currently enrolled are high school students in advanced placement classes, not full-time students.

Clinton Community College Board Chair David Favro, also the county sheriff, says expenses have mounted as student population has diminished.

“It came to a point in time that we had to really start looking at a bold, innovative idea to sustain the future of providing a good quality education to the students and also a good social experience for the students.”

Favro says the board looked at a number of options, including actions taken by other colleges facing fiscal issues, and did not want to meet the same fate.

“We wanted to take a look at what opportunities were presented and we’re very fortunate to have a sister university right here in our own backyard, if you will, with Plattsburgh State. So I guess we looked at what their common issues were and realizing that we’re on the same path and we don’t want to be on that path. It’ll be different. There’s no other community college in the state of New York that is sharing a campus or is located on a state university campus.”

The college provides a number of workforce development programs and hosts the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing on its current campus. North Country Chamber President Garry Douglas says while all of the area colleges are important to the business community, Clinton Community College programs in particular are designed to provide workforce skill sets.

“What’s important is the programs not the buildings. A tough decision needed to be made how to sustain the college’s programs well into the future, in part by right-sizing. We’re very fortunate that a solution to the sustainability of Clinton Community College for decades to come is being facilitated.”

The Clinton Community College property is owned by the county and the legislature currently budgets $3.4 million to the institution. Legislature Chair Mark Henry noted that the college’s accreditation was a concern and emphasized that this undertaking is not a merger with SUNY Plattsburgh.

“This plan was developed to ensure accreditation. So the accreditation plan going forward would include the move to the campus of SUNY Plattsburgh. It is not a merger. There will be shared services over there. But it will still be Clinton Community College. It will have its own identity. It will have its students and it will go on as it does now, just in a different location.”

SUNY Plattsburgh President Alexander Enyedi issued a statement to the campus community noting that the college has long partnered with the community college on initiatives such as dual admissions and degree programs. He notes: “..., it is our sound financial position, clear direction and future focus that even lets SUNY, Clinton Community College, and the county look to us for assistance in this way.... Our focus will be to make any arrangement advantageous to both institutions and ensure there is no detrimental financial impact on our campus.”

The transition is expected to take several years.