SCHENECTADY -- SUNY Schenectady County Community College turned 50 years old Tuesday as students headed back to class.
The college’s largest birthday present, though, will remain under wraps for the remainder of the school year as its library receives a $10 million overhaul set for completion next summer.
Students will be using a pared down library relocated to Ellston Hall this school year, but the college’s expanded collection will be stored off site and available to students upon request.
“If students want books, they can get books,” college President Steady Moono promised during an August interview.
Once complete the new college library, dubbed a learning commons, will be outfitted with flexible space, a new cafe and redesigned space that lets in more light and provides an opening between the first and second floors. After the library renovation is complete, expected next summer, the college will then work to consolidate various student support service, like tutoring assistance, counselors and other key services, in the library area. That is expected to take another year to complete.
The college has also rolled out a handful of new programs for this school year, programs Moono said will give students a leg up in emerging fields and lines of work.
“We are being innovative, looking around the corner to see what industry needs, what students need,” Moono said during the August interview.
Moono highlighted a new certificate program focused on preparing students for careers in the growing food truck industry. The college this summer unveiled the heart of the new program: a fully-equipped food truck to be used by culinary students and faculty.
The college this year is also offering a new associates degree program in computer programming for game development, as well as a certificate program for community health workers.
Eye in the sky
The college has also strengthened its surveillance capabilities in recent years, expanding the presence of cameras across campus and converting an old classroom into a home base for the school's private security crew.
Starting last fall, the college has employed a full-time, armed sheriff’s deputy on campus. But a team of private unarmed security guards will also be tracking real-time surveillance footage all times of the day. The college started expanding camera locations last year and in February opened a new station where the security monitors can track what’s happening on campus. Footage from some of the cameras also flows directly to the Schenectady Police Department, Moono said.
College officials would not reveal the exact number of surveillance cameras on campus but said there are over 250 locations on campus being monitored – about a four-fold increase in recent years.
“There isn’t any place you can go on this campus that someone doesn’t know [you are] there,” Moono said.
Fidel Mohabir, the SUNY Schenectady site supervisor for security, can monitor the video footage from a bank of screens in his office, part of the newly-renovated security office on campus. The space also gives the security monitors room to meet and train, as well as space to conduct interviews about safety and security matters.
“When I get here I see everything that’s going on on the whole campus,” he said of his office.