Genesee Community College, which has administered tens of thousands of tests through the years, was recently tested, the College's Board of Trustees learned at Monday's (June 13) monthly meeting. The trustees were pleased to learn the College's Campus Safety department not only passed the test, but were also in the 90th percentile.
Unbeknownst to the college's administration, its security systems and its readiness for a terrorist attack were tested by an unplanned and unannounced visit by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over three separate days. Suspicious vehicles in the parking lots, unregistered visitors taking photographs, and activities inside the Batavia Campus were not only noted by the Campus Safety officers, but also recorded and finally reported to outside authorities.
It was then College officials learned that the Batavia Campus was one of the few sites that successfully responded in a safe and secure manner to Homeland Securities clandestine efforts to test terrorist threat readiness. Many of the unannounced exercises conducted by Homeland Security in public spaces such as shopping centers, hospitals, public arenas and other campuses go unnoticed and unreported.
"When the Board of Trustees voted to expand Genesee's public safety office to include peace officers several years ago, they made a very wise decision and investment," GCC President James M. Sunser said. "We are continuously working to be aware of all activities on our campuses, and be as sensitive as we can to any suspicious activity."
In other business Monday evening, the Board of Trustees:
• Heard Trustee Donna M. Ferry, chair of the Nominating Committee, report on the following recommendations for the 2016-2017 slate of officers for GCC's Board of Trustees: Laura J. Bohm, chair; Donna M. Ferry, vice chair; and Peter R. Call, secretary. The Board will vote on these recommendations at the next meeting on July 11.
• Heard Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathleen (Kate) Schiefen report that the GCC's Nursing program recently completed a year-long comprehensive review. With the Board of Trustees approval, the proposal to rebuild the program under concept-based curriculum will be sent to the State University of New York (SUNY) and eventually to New York State Department of Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. With the flood of changes in today's ever-advancing healthcare environment, both instructors and students are often frustrated by the extensive knowledge needed to study, remember and apply to real practice. The new concept-based curriculum manages the information overload, increases student engagement and the development of critical thinking skills.
• Heard President Sunser report on the extension of the GCC Educational Support Personnel Association (ESPA) employee contract which includes annual salary increases of 2 percent for the next three years.
• Heard William (Bill) Emm, executive vice president for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, report on the progress of the College's "Self Study" in preparation for next year's Middles States Accreditation visit. Approximately 80 members of the College's faculty and staff are serving on seven working committees, each focused on one of the seven Accreditation Standards. The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Emm and by Tim Tomczak, professor and director of GCC's Social Science division. Professor Tomczak is currently editing the seven narratives produced by the committees and the draft will be ready for final review by the College community before the end of summer. These efforts are in preparation for Middle States Accreditation site visit scheduled April 2-5, 2017.
• Heard Kevin Hamilton, vice president and Finance and Operations, report that GCC is now hosting a Mesonet Weather Station on the northeast corner of the Batavia Campus near the cellular tower. The station is part of a network of 125 weather stations installed across New York State, funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Together, the system will provide vertical profiles of temperature, relative humidity, 3D wind speeds, cloud height, and eventually soil temperature readings when sensors are added. The system of weather stations, overseen by the State University at Albany, will benefit homeland security, energy, aviation, emergency management and agriculture, and comes at no cost to GCC.
• Welcomed staff member, Maureen Spindler, GCC's new visual communications specialist. Maureen has more than 20 years of experience in photography, owning The Village Photographer, a boutique photo studio in Hilton, where she specialized in portraits, events and commercial photography. She served as photographer and graphic designer at Finger Lakes Community College and with the Pavilion Gift Company. She and husband, Paul, have three adult children. They reside in Hilton.