Schenectady County

Gillen is appointed to SCCC board

The county’s top economic developer is joining Schenectady County Community College’s board of tr

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Categories: Schenectady County

The county’s top economic developer is joining Schenectady County Community College’s board of trustees, and he already has ideas on how to tie the college into the community’s economic development efforts.

In another change, Vincent DiCerbo, appointed by the Schenectady County Legislature, will resign from the college board next week and be replaced by county Legislator Gary Hughes.

Ray Gillen, commissioner of economic development and planning for Schenectady County and chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority, was appointed to the 10-member board in January by Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Gillen replaces Nicholas Barber, whose term expired last summer. Gillen’s term expires June 30, 2014. Barber said he was “honored and proud to serve as a trustee and as chairman of the board during some major projects.”

The governor appoints four members of the board, the Schenectady County Legislature appoints five and the SCCC student body selects a student representative.

“It is an honor to be appointed,” Gillen said Friday.

He has yet to attend his first board meeting, but is looking forward to helping the college move forward. “My son goes there and I am interested in the programs and what they do,” he said.

He said one of his goals is to help the college develop new programs and services to train people for jobs in the Capital Region. “There is a whole emerging field to prepare people to work in green industries, those related to renewable energy,” he said. He calls these “green-collar jobs,” a term akin to white-collar and blue-collar jobs.

Gillen said Schenectady is becoming a hub for the development of renewable energy technology. Renewable energy uses wind, solar and the sea as sources of power; it is cleaner than power created by coal-fired plants and safer than power created by nuclear plants.

“I would like to see the college become more involved in training the technical workers that we need for the local economy. It is a good fit between our economic development role and our college,” Gillen said.

He cited the decision by GE Energy Power Generation to invest $39 million to expand its power generation business headquartered in Schenectady as proof of the need for new educational programs. GE will renovate Building 53 on its campus, a now vacant five-story office unit built in 1909, to house 500 engineers. The engineers are expected to earn starting salaries of between $80,000 and $100,000, according to officials.

SCCC is already moving in this direction, Gillen said. The college introduced a new two-year-degree program in nanoscale materials technology. The program prepares students to work in the emerging and highly technical semiconductor and superconductor manufacturing and research and development field.

Gillen also cited the college’s program in emergency management. The program prepares students for careers or to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program related to emergency management, homeland security, organizational communication, political science or public administration.

DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, said he is stepping down as a college trustee to concentrate on his new duties as chairman of the county Legislature’s Committee on Economic Planning. DiCerbo had chaired the Legislature’s Committee on Education and Libraries; Hughes, D-Schenectady, is the new chair of this committee.

“It is an unwritten rule that the chair of the education committee serves as liaison to college board,” DiCerbo said. DiCerbo’s term on the college board was set to expire 2011.

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