A message from Casey

Casey and students

As we look to the future, including the start of the second decade of the 21st century, one thing seems certain: with the accelerated pace of change all around us, the college of today won’t be the college of tomorrow. Last year, in preparation for the development of a new Strategic Plan, we took a good look “under the hood” to get a sense of where we have come as an institution, where we are now, and of course, where our community will need us to be. A cross-campus team made up of faculty, staff and students started with an environmental scan, and concluded that many trends including the aging Baby Boomer demographic, increasing diversity in our region, and continued decreases in the high school age population will continue to impact the region we serve. Further, it remains true that education beyond high school is linked to stronger economic security, and that expectations in the workplace call for increased training and strong soft skills. In addition, the team clearly identified the inescapable fact that Central New York faces pockets of poverty in both rural and urban areas that rank among the highest in the nation; more than a quarter of our working-age population is in need of a job or a better-paying job; and as many as half the children in parts of our area live in poverty.

As a community college, we are uniquely designed to help build a better future for our community. The vast majority of our students come from Central New York and are likely to stay in the region to live, work and raise families following graduation. And by 2018, 63% of jobs in New York State will require some form of post-secondary education, whether it be workforce training, a two-year degree leading to a job, or transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. In 2013, Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., found that in our service region, the average income of someone with an associate’s degree is $43,400 per year. Clearly, education can lift people from poverty, impacting not only the income earner, but children, families, and communities. And we also know that once someone earns a degree, this positively impacts the educational attainment level of the entire family, broadening its impact with every subsequent generation.

With a clear need for educational attainment and economic health for all members of our community, the focus areas for OCC’s next Strategic Plan became very clear: (1) Provide students with equitable access to a clear and well-aligned path to their goals for success; (2) Position students for success by implementing research validated methods and other high impact practices for early and ongoing student engagement in the educational process; and (3) Improve student transitions to college by strengthening relationships with PreK-12 and community partners. We must do all that we can to ensure that OCC’s open door leads to a pathway to success.

As the traditional African proverb goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Taking it a step further, it takes a village to raise a student, a graduate, an employee, a parent, a citizen, a community. At Onondaga Community College, our first institutional core value is “keep students at the center of all we do.” We are proud of our mission, our focus and our vision for the future of Central New York. We eagerly look forward to all of the possibilities before us.

Mission + Vision

Onondaga Community College is Central New York’s partner in education for success. Achieving our mission through:

  • Student Access, Retention, Completion, Transfer
  • Academic Excellence
  • Student Engagement and Support
  • Career and Workforce Advancement
  • Responsible Stewardship of Resources
  • Community Engagement

Our Core Values

  • Student First – Keep students at the center of all we do.
  • Learning – Embrace the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and free expression of ideas in a safe environment to advance the individual and the community.
  • Excellence – Strive for continual improvement and innovation to seek our highest potential.
  • Diversity – Enrich learning through an inclusive campus environment that respects human dignity and difference.
  • Community – Foster active and productive participation in building a mutually supportive environment for members of the campus and broader communities.
  • Responsibility – Build a culture of integrity and accountability to develop both self and others.

Our Primary Long-term Goal

Our overarching goal is that clear academic and career pathways, student-focused services, collaboration with our educational and business partners in the community and engaged employees will ensure equitable access and success for our students. As a result, higher percentages of entering OCC students will be retained through completion at Onondaga, and our degree and certificate completion rates will be in the top quartile of community colleges in New York State. This primary long-term goal (targeted for the next 10 years) drives the three goals that follow.

Strategic Goal #1

Provide students with equitable access to a clear and well-aligned path to their goals for success. Operational activities to support this goal include:

  1. Attracting students with a drive for success, and the college will further cultivate students’ motivation.
  2. Sustaining our enrollment levels by targeting increased:
    • Retention;
    • Market penetration; and
    • Enrollment from under-represented populations in the community including minority students and adult learners
  3. Providing students with a fully mapped out program, aligned with further education and career goals, from the beginning of their enrollment at OCC
    • Students will have an intentionally designed first year
    • Students who do not have clearly identified career goals will be provided with an orientation to Onondaga’s academic disciplines and a career exploration experience
    • Students in a transfer program will receive a level of education that will prepare them to complete a baccalaureate degree
    • Career programs will ensure that students have the general education, technical and soft skills necessary for success in the workplace
  4. Linking workforce programs directly to local and regional employment/employer needs and to career opportunities with living wages, supporting economic vitality for the community
  5. Achieving timely program completion through flexible scheduling, locations, and registration processes. 
Student in a lab

Strategic Goal #2

Position students for success by implementing research validated methods and other high impact practices for early and ongoing student engagement in the educational process. Operational activities to support this goal include:

  1. Assessing students’ academic needs and non-cognitive traits to identify effectively areas where students will most likely succeed and where they require support
    • Providing appropriate level of support to become college ready, if needed.
    • Facilitating the ability to earn college credits through prior learning assessments, as determined by faculty.
  2. Engaging students effectively in comprehensive first year programming including an effective orientation, a strong and holistic advising system and registration process, exposure to transfer opportunities, and career development counseling.
  3. Supporting faculty to sustain excellent learning opportunities in both academic programs and individual courses to ensure curricular integrity. Providing students with resources to excel in their subjects. As appropriate, students, guided by faculty:
    • Complete developmental education and/or alternative educational opportunities.
    • Have flexible access to effective tutoring and learning support.
    • Successfully complete entry-level classes.
    • Participate in challenging learning experiences designed for high achievers such as the Honors Program
    • Participate in applied learning experiences (e.g., internships, co-ops, clinical placements, field work and service learning)
  4. Linking students to relevant personal and social supports to help them succeed with their chosen pathway, including
    • Curricular and co-curricular programming that will help them develop academically, personally, and professionally
    • College success, self-advocacy, and life success skills training and activities.
    • Linked referrals to community services and support programs
    • An innovative career center on campus providing students with important linkages, including local employers, alumni, career advice and applied learning opportunities. 
Students on the lawn

Strategic Goal #3

Improve student transitions to college by strengthening relationships with PreK-12 and community partners. Operational activities to support this goal include:

  1. Providing precollege students the opportunity to experience a college-bound culture through comprehensive outreach to appropriate levels of PreK-12 education that communicates the exceptional benefits, value, and quality of an OCC education.
    • Prospective students will receive a foundation of understanding that college and higher education is critical to a career opportunity and future success
  2. Supporting consistent, broad-based engagement across the various segments of the PreK-12 educational system to ensure that we use our community resources, capabilities, and knowledge to enhance students' college readiness throughout their PreK-12 education.
  3. Providing college ready activities throughout high school, to help students and families understand the pathway to college, including career roadmaps, transitional advising, and assistance with college financial decision-making.
  4. Providing high school students with appropriate precollege supports, interventions and acceleration strategies
    • Students who have mastered requirements for college and career readiness earn college credit before they leave high school
    • Students who have not mastered requirements for college and career readiness will receive precollege interventions in a variety of formats and delivery modes
  5. Fostering a strong educational community that includes our educational partners as well as individuals and organizations interested in continual learning. 
Students getting off of a bus

Supporting Operational Priorities

Onondaga Community College’s core values are inherent in the cultural fabric of the College. Therefore, we are committed to act with the greatest compassion and deepest wisdom in pursuit of our strategic goals. Operational priorities necessary to move on strategic goals:

  1. Cultivate Talent/Human Capital – provide an optimal workforce by recruiting, training, developing, rewarding and retaining high-quality faculty, administrators and support staff to enhance the student experience:
    • Faculty, administrators, and staff have the opportunity to map out a multi-year career path that will help them develop, balance their life needs, and grow professionally
    • Establish a more comprehensive system to honor employees for outstanding achievements for student success professional development, innovative and cost saving ideas, and community contributions.
  2. Optimize all college assets and resources to advance student access and success:
    • Fiscal Responsibility – sustain responsible stewardship of financial resources
    • Continue to work toward increased levels of support by state and county partners.
    • Continue to enhance grant support.
    • Physical Resources – provide and maintain excellent physical resources to support a highly engaged learning and working environment.
    • Information Technology – ensure appropriate current technology is available to enrich and support teaching and learning and to support administrative and academic services for high levels of organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
    • Enhance financial, physical, and capital planning to assure the long-term sustainability of our assets and resources
  3. Build a strong, institution-wide culture of evidence and inquiry that facilitates student-centered change efforts and tracks results
    • Develop user-friendly systems, procedures, and methodologies that will allow our employees to achieve and sustain this work
  4. Ensure a safe and secure campus with an atmosphere of civility and camaraderie and foster personal and campus safety for all students, employees and visitors
  5. Enhance communication and collaboration among students, faculty, administrators, staff, and the community
    • Develop a broader understanding of our students’ needs by cultivating student / employee engagement and interaction
    • Expand opportunities and activities for students (athletics, student clubs, alumni initiatives, etc.) to help them engage with the community and build stronger relationships
    • Support professional development for faculty, administrators, and staff that meets their identified needs and interests
    • Encourage and reward community service, volunteerism and community engagement in conjunction with the college’s commitment to quality of life and economic vitality
  6. Design systems, spaces and opportunities that encourage innovation and enhance effectiveness
    • Provide administrative support for faculty innovation in all facets of the educational program
  7. Reach beyond the boundaries, take risks and continuously work to advance a culture of caring, trust, personal responsibility, diversity, integrity, transparency and teamwork
  8. Work with our SUNY system partners and public leaders to support investment and innovation; to seek appropriate grants opportunities, and to contribute to system wide collaborations that serve the Central New York region and enhance the reputation of SUNY, the largest comprehensive university system in the United States. 

Performance Indicators

Performance indicators help us measure progress toward college-wide goal completion. For Lazer Focus: 2016-2021, we will track our impact with the following indicators.

A GPS with OCC in its coordinates


  • Access
  • Persistence - Retention
  • College Success
  • Success after OCC
  • Satisfaction