FMCC enrollment even with last year

JOHNSTOWN — Officials at Fulton-Montgomery Community College say summer enrollment this year is about even with enrollment last year despite the shift to remote instruction for summer courses. Enrollment for the fall remains uncertain as admissions staff ramp up recruitment efforts while questions loom statewide over how colleges will provide instruction in the fall and what the impact will be on enrollment.

FMCC Vice President for Student Affairs Jane Kelley reported to the Board of Trustees during Thursday’s remote meeting that the college has enrolled 319 students for the summer semester representing 102.7 full-time equivalent students.

Kelley said the enrollment level is about even with enrollment at the college in summer 2019 despite deviations from the school’s typical offering of two five-week sessions with in-person and online options to a single 10-week session to be conducted entirely remotely due to the coronavirus outbreak. Summer classes at FMCC begin today.

“We have seen a nice enrollment for the summer, we’re about even with where we were last year, so that’s good news,” said Kelley.

For fall classes that are scheduled to begin on Sept. 2, Kelly said as of Thursday the college had registered a total of 1,011 students representing 742.7 FTE. For comparison, for fall 2018 FMCC enrolled a total of 2,451 students representing 1,641 FTE.

With roughly three months left to boost admissions ahead of the fall semester, Kelley said admissions staff are collaborating with academic program staff to provide new methods to engage with prospective students while the FMCC campus remains closed to all non-essential staff.

With physical college campus visits statewide put on hold due to the stay at home order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March, FMCC quickly rolled out a remote admissions process while organizing virtual opportunities to explore the campus through a previously produced interactive tour featured on the college website and new ways of connecting prospective students with academic staff members through online chat sessions over Facebook Live.

“Our admissions team teamed up with the academic program staff by meta-major which are those eight different buckets that we put our academic programs in and they created chat with professor opportunities and they have just been fantastic,” said Kelley.

Each session moderated by admissions staff features teaching faculty in a particular field of study providing background information on the field and discussing career opportunities that graduating students may look forward. Prospective students viewing the live sessions can pose questions in real-time by commenting on the livestreamed videos that are featured on the FMCC Facebook page where they can be viewed at any time.

“They’re just wonderful,” said Kelley.

In addition to future sessions on academic programs, Kelley said the college also plans to host live chat sessions surrounding financial aid.

“I just want to commend my staff as well as the academic staff for collaborating on this opportunity for our college, it has been really, really great to see,” said Kelley. “So far, we’ve done many of them, [with] a lot more interest to do more.”

After facing years of declining enrollment along with community colleges nationwide, officials at FMCC are unsure of what to expect for enrollment this academic year while many face economic uncertainty amidst business closures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus and questions loom over whether instruction will resume on college campuses in the fall or whether the semester will be conducted remotely. These concerns could drive more students to plan to stay at home for at least the next year to save on tuition costs while pursuing their educations at local community colleges, possibly leading to a surge in enrollment at FMCC.

While the college is unsure of where enrollment figures will land in the fall, officials are similarly uncertain of whether capital project work planned for this summer will proceed this year.

Despite approval from both the Fulton County Board of Supervisors and the Montgomery County Legislature to move forward with planned capital project work this summer and approval by the state for the Mohawk Valley region to begin phase one of reopening as of May 15 which includes the resumption of construction, Trustee James Landrio reported to the board that state agencies are being required to reduced their budgets by 10 percent, including budgets for capital projects.

“Funding for capital projects must be reduced in accordance with that requirement and the [State University of New York] Office of Capital Facilities is engaging in a process of communicating with each SUNY college to determine their anticipated capital project cash needs for the year,” said Landrio.

FMCC was expected to complete the third and final phase of the college’s science lab project this summer with the renovation of the school’s two remaining science labs; the zoology lab and the former microbiology lab which will become a general science lab. The cost of the third phase of the project is estimated at $1 million with anticipated contributions of $250,000 each from Fulton and Montgomery counties and $500,000 in matching state funds.

Landrio reported that SUNY is currently reviewing capital projects plans to prepare a revised list of projects across the schools in the SUNY system for final state approval with priority to be given to projects related to health and safety.

“Funding for the college’s 2020 capital projects is uncertain at this time and the insurance of contracts for the summer 2020 capital project is on hold until the SUNY Office of Capital Facilities concludes its review process and receives approval from the state budget office for its revised capital projects. So that’s where we stand on that,” said Landrio.


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