Two spring semesters ago, during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, Onondaga Community College made a seismic student-focused shift in its structure. All of the degree and certificate programs were organized into eight distinct Schools within OCC. The goal was to give students in like-minded courses of study a home on campus where they could go for assistance with almost anything. Each School was staffed with a Support Team which included a Professional Advisor, a Success Coach, a Faculty School Specialist, a Career & Transfer Specialist, and a Secretary.
Some of those who worked hardest on the transition at OCC will be sharing their success story with higher education colleagues next month when they present at the SUNY Student Success Summit. Representing OCC will be Jenna Alexander, Director of the Student Advising and Coaching Network; Professor Justin Fiene, Faculty School Specialist in the School of Math, Science & Engineering; Sherrie Asbie-White, Assistant Director of Advising in the Student Coach & Advising Network; and Abigail Klein, Professional Advisor in our School of Computing and Applied Technologies. Naomi Stewart, who is the Assistant Director of Coaching & Support Services, will be presenting OCC's Schools success story at the American Association of Community Colleges conference.
Student Eli Hunt is a huge fan of the Schools structure. He graduated from Cazenovia High School in 2020, took a gap year, and was introduced to OCC during the 2021 Seize Your Summer program. That's where he first met Professor Fiene. "He was super encouraging describing the atmosphere of the campus and the staff." His positive interactions continued with Dean Tzivanis, his Advisor in the School of Math, Science & Engineering. "I originally came with the idea of a Chemistry major but he helped me switch to a more engineering-focused path. He knew exactly what he was talking about, helped me set up my schedule, and gave me great advice." Hunt also enjoys the atmosphere with his School's main office in Ferrante Hall. "Their door is always open. It's very welcoming. You come in and they all know your name."
The story of OCC's transition to Schools is the subject of this edition of our podcast, "Chatting About College." We're discussing the change and how it has benefitted students with Alexander and Fiene. You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link. You can also find it at places like iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you download fine podcasts by searching "Chatting About College."