WATERTOWN — For Jefferson Community College President Ty A. Stone, the first 100 days of her tenure were about looking ahead to the college’s future.
Ms. Stone, who succeeded 10-year JCC President Carole A. McCoy last year as the institution’s sixth president, said she has spent the last several months talking to many within the community about what needs to happen to create a more symbiotic relationship between it and JCC.
Thus, Ms. Stone has devised a new set of strategic priorities to help improve that relationship, from workforce development to reversing the downward trend of enrollment.
In a Times interview Monday, Ms. Stone noted that, as job acquisition increasingly requires some sort of degree or certificate beyond grade school, there are currently around 50,000 people in Jefferson and Lewis counties who do not have the appropriate work credentials to earn a living wage.
She said this is a problem faced by some of the region’s largest employers, such as the Kraft-Heinz facility in Lowville, where qualified workers have to commute from far away places like Utica because they are unable to hire locally.
Dedicating more resources to identifying educational needs to benefit the area, Ms. Stone said, will make the region more attractive to business.
“When you have a well-qualified workforce, you will have more businesses starting to come here,” she said.
Additionally, Ms. Stone said JCC will bolster data analysis of its academic programs and services to maintain what does work and remove what does not. For instance, if a problem arises within a certain academic program, Ms. Stone said the college should be able to track the cause of the problem as far down as a specific class.
“(Data) tells you a story of what we need to do, how we need to do it,” she said.
More effort will also be put into creating more community connections and increasing enrollment by prioritizing programs and managing budget issues amid changes to the local population, including Fort Drum.
Enrollment has gone down about 18 percent in the last four years, Ms. Stone said. While JCC receives a steady number of applications, Ms. Stone said enrollment continues to decline.
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