The virtues of Suffolk Community College were on full display in a series of presentations by three administrators at the college at the Eggs & Issues Chamber of Commerce meeting in Riverhead Thursday morning. When Drew Fawcett, associate dean for institutional advancement, asked the crowd at Polish Hall if any of them had taken classes at Suffolk, at least half of the people in the room raised their hands. When he asked who in the room had friends or family members who had attended Suffolk, nearly everyone in the room raised their hands.
Associate Dean Jim Frost told the crowd that he believed the college is the most important agency in Suffolk County.
“Our mission statement is ‘we transform lives so that we build communities so that we improve societies,’ he said.
Mr. Frost added that the school has seen a major increase in veterans taking classes after they return from serving overseas.
“Almost all of them come to us wounded,” he said. “They come begging for the transformation of their lives, and we provide that.”
John Lombardo, director of the corporate training center at the college, touted the school’s recent investment in training for people who work in manufacturing.
He said that he began his career as a schoolteacher, but became tired of not being able to answer the question “what do I have to learn this for?” He decided after leaving teaching for a career in industry that he wanted to make classroom learning relevant to work people do after leaving school.
That is the major focus behind the school’s culinary arts program, which educated 400 students this past year.
“Culinary arts is our fastest growing program,” said Mr. Fawcett. “We expect a 40 percent increase next year alone.”
Mr. Fawcett added that, at $3,700 per year, tuition at Suffolk Community Collegeis about 10 percent of the cost at a private college. He added that students who want to transfer to prestigious four-year colleges are at a much greater advantage if they transfer as juniors.
“The applicant pool is much smaller,” he said. “And they have a track record they can run on.”