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SCCC supports reviving theater program

SCCC supports reviving theater program

Schenectady County Community College’s theater program may receive an encore.

Schenectady County Community College’s theater program may receive an encore.

The program, which was deactivated last year, may be revived, as the college wants to create a drama concentration for its two-year associate degree in liberal arts.

Board of trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said Monday that the faculty has endorsed the proposal and it has been sent off to SUNY officials for review. Theater is an important part of the college’s identity, according to McGraw.

“This is a community that prides itself on the arts. For us not to have some sort of theater offering at this college, it really would have been a shame,” she said.

The college’s faculty last spring had made the recommendation to deactivate the program and not admit any new students because of declining enrollment. The roughly 40 students currently enrolled in the program at that time were allowed to complete their degree.

The deactivation started a three-year period, at the end of which the college had to determine what to do with the program.

But unhappiness within the college and the community itself quickly led the college to reconsider the elimination.

McGraw thanked Schenectady High School theater teacher Bill Ziskin, Proctors Chief Executive Officer Philip Morris and representatives from the Schenectady Light Opera Company for their input in reshaping the program. Penny Haynes, vice president of academic affairs, spearheaded the effort.

The 30-credit concentration would contain courses in performance arts such as musical theory, drama theory and history and playwriting, according to McGraw.

Morris said he was excited about the program returning and the possibility of students obtaining a two-year degree with a concentration in the theater. He pointed out that the college already has an excellent music program. “I think it’s emulatable in the theater program,” he said.

It makes sense to have a program at SCCC, Morris added, because there is already a strong foundation at Schenectady High School with its Blue Roses Theatre Company.

In other program news, the SCCC board of trustees Monday approved submitting a proposal to SUNY to create a new one-year certificate program in entrepreneurship.

McGraw said there is a lot of interest in the community from people who want to start up a business but don’t have the training.

“You find out the hard way that you don’t know how to do it,” she said.

Students in this 25-credit program would be enrolled in classes such as introduction to business, accounting, writing a business plan, marketing, sales and service, human resource management, according to SCCC President Quintin Bullock.

Bullock said the college would like to start offering that program this fall pending SUNY approval.

Also, the board approved close to $350,000 worth of renovations to the building at 201 State St. that was donated to the college by the Kindl family in 2009. SCCC is going to house its workforce development programs in the space.

Bullock said he wants SCCC to increase the number of noncredit classes and offer more specialized training for local businesses.

Among the classes currently offered under that umbrella are English as a second language, GED preparation, manufacturing skills and logistics. College officials are looking to add more programs for training of workers such as home health care aides and certified nursing assistants.

The board awarded two contracts — one for Mid-State Industries to repair the roof at a cost not to exceed $192,921 and the other one to Bunkoff General Contractors for renovations to the facade at a cost of up to $147,000.

Bullock said he hoped the work would start as soon as possible and be completed in the fall.

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