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Relationship with SUNYIT
(Also see Utica College section)

(Feb 26, 1975, letter from Russel C. Fielding, MVCC Board Chairman, to Dr. Ronald Goldson, Chairman of the Utica College Foundation) –
“Over the past several months, this Board of Trustees has followed with great interest and sympathy the discussions between the State University of New York, Syracuse University and Utica College.
With respect to the Upper Division College, our position is very clear. We strongly support the fullest possible development of the Upper Division College, both in order to provide transfer programs specially designed for two-year college graduates and also to provide for commuter students at the upper division and graduate levels in this region, which is seriously short of these necessary opportunities. We look forward with confidence to the approval by the various authorities of those programs which in our view, are essential to the mission of the Upper Division College, as originally conceived; that is, specialized programs in engineering, engineering technology, science and other specialized areas related to existing two-year college programs .
With respect to Utica College and its future, we have felt that it would be inappropriate for us to intrude into what we know are very delicate discussions on a most complex problem.
However, we now believe that we would be derelict in our duty as Trustees were we not to draw attention to an aspect of these negotiations which could have a most serious affect on this College, as well as Herkimer County Community College. We refer to the possibility that the freshman and sophomore years of Utica College, might, as a condition of the possible merger, be continued under the aegis of the Upper Division College.
MVCC’s academic standards are well-documented, and the College enjoys a good reputation both in transfer programs and in career programs. Nonetheless, it seems to us very clear that the existence of a low-tuition, four-year state college in Utica would have a very serious impact on our programs. The impact would not only be on liberal arts-related programs, but also on many of our career programs.
The magnitude of such an impact is difficult to estimate, but it would affect most aspects of our operation. The loss of what could be a substantial proportion of local students to a four-year state college could cause a sharp increase in MVCC’s per capita costs to the County of Oneida, especially when compared with the remarkably low operating costs that MVCC has established over the past decades. Any reduction in enrollment would of course have an urgent bearing on the development of physical facilities. The College’s ability to contribute to the retirement of county debt for existing facilities could be damaged. The MVCC Dormitory Corporation could also expect an impact, since many dormitory residents come from outlying parts of our county and region. And of course, any reduction in enrollment could have a direct affect on employment of faculty, administrative and supporting staff.
We do not wish to complicate what is already a most difficult problem. We support the Upper Division fully, and we wish Utica College well, as a distinctive and important part of the higher educational scene in this region. But we must remind all concerned that Mohawk Valley Community College, having built a reputation for service and standards over a history that goes back to 1946, now graduating over 1300 certificate and degree students each year, and with costs that are among the lowest in the State, could be seriously affected if the State University now establishes, by any means, additional public supported freshman and sophomore courses in Utica.”

In October 1978, MVCC and HCCC expressed opposition to a proposed merger between Utica College and the State University College of Technology at Utica-Rome, with SUNY tuition rates. SUNY College of Technology President William Kunsela said the two community college presidents were over-reacting, that the SUNY mission as an upper division institution would not change. This followed earlier rejection of a co-location concept involving the two institutions, at the Utica College location. A site in Marcy for the SUNY campus was being pushed by State Senator James Donovan, while Utica Mayor Stephen Pawlinga was promoting a downtown location.

(Feb. 13, 1981, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Concept of shared MVCC and SUNY campus considered – The feasibility of co-locating the State University College of Technology on the Mohawk Valley Community College campus was raised by SUNY officials last fall, and while MVCC President George H. Robertson agrees with the principle, he said no formal inquiry has been made to the MVCC board of trustees.
He reported on the telephone inquiry, which he said was ‘of a technical nature,’ to the MVCC board Tuesday, ‘but there was no discussion.’
Co-location with MVCC, a two-year community college specializing in technology courses, is one of the alternatives reportedly being considered by some SUNY people if the state backs away from its proposal to build a permanent campus for the College of Technology at Marcy.
Dr. Robertson said today the inquiry was ‘is it (co-location) feasible? The questions raised, he continued, were how large is the campus, what services are available, such as library, laboratories, physical education, residential halls, etc., and the nature of the programs offered here.’
Most of this information, he said, is available in the Albany files on MVCC, he said, adding that the state university people ‘already have access to most of the information they require – it’s all on record – and they know the campus, which they have been visiting on and off for years.’
The MVCC president said there was no follow-up to this initial inquiry, nor does he expect one unless SUNY decides against construction of a campus in Marcy.
He said he feels a co-location of the two colleges is ‘feasible,’ and that the programs offered by the two-year and four-year college ‘complement each other – they do not overlap.’
He pointed out that the interest was strictly one of co-location, or sharing facilities and perhaps staff, and ‘there was not even the slightest suggestion of merger,’ which would mean absorption of some of the MVCC programs.
Dr. Robertson said he pointed out to the SUNY officials that MVCC operates campuses in both Utica and Rome, and that any co-location would have to involve the two campuses. …
He said that while he feels the sharing of services and staff under a co-location arrangement is feasible, ‘a merger is not.’
He explained that the ‘funding device for the two-year college is totally different from that of the (upper division) College of Technology, and that MVCC is partially county funded, while SUNY is funded directly out of the governor’s budget.’ …
He said under a co-location arrangement, SUNY could rent space or contribute to the budget as reimbursement for specific services, such as use of the computers or library, for example. …”

(March 5, 1981, Utica Observer-Dispatch – “Wharton ‘Leans to MVCC Co-Location’ for Campus – Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton is leaning toward recommending that the State University of New York build the permanent campus for the College of Technology at Mohawk Valley Community College, according to SUNY and legislature sources.
Wharton, who is scheduled to make his recommendation at the SUNY Board of Trustees meeting March 18, has scheduled a meeting on Saturday at the Trailway Inn in New Hartford to discuss campus options.
A State University spokesman said today that Wharton would indicate at the meeting which of the five options for the college site he preferred, but the spokesman said Wharton had not yet told his staff which it would be….”

(March 7, 1981, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “MVCC president, county at odds over co-location feasibility – Oneida County leaders made it perfectly clear Friday that the governor and State University Chancellor Clifton R, Wharton Jr. have got big trouble on their hands if they want to co-locate the College of Technology on the campus of Mohawk Valley Community College.
But not everyone is calling for the state to stand behind the original Marcy site. MVCC President George H. Robertson said this morning he has no position on where the technological school should be built. The MVCC Board of Trustees would have to approve of the co-location proposal.
Solidly behind the Marcy campus for the state’s 10-year-old orphan college, County Executive Sherwood L. Boehlert and Board of Legislators Chairman William F. Bellinger rejected the idea outright.
‘Co-location is absolutely impossible; the idea is incredible,’ Bellinger said of the option that is expected to be recommended by Wharton when he meets in closed session at 3 today with area elected officials at the Trailway Inn, New Hartford.
Friday’s meeting was called by State Sen. James H. Donovan, R-46, Chadwicks.
Boehlert and Bellinger pulled no punches when it came to alerting the group of area government, business and media representatives that the count has some clout in the matter and will use it.
Bellinger said three of the eight MVCC trustees he polled are ‘committed to Marcy,’ but he said he wasn’t sure about the other five, or about MVCC President Robertson.
‘I have no position as to the desirability of co-location,’ Robertson said today. He did confirm he believes the co-location idea is feasible on ‘technical, economic and educational grounds.’
Bellinger raised the question as to whether the community college board and Robertson might be ‘at conflict’ in their feelings on co-location.
Boehlert said he wouldn’t stand for a weak link in the chain of unity forged by the business, educational and government leaders on the college issue.
‘If Robertson wants to come to the county for his budget money next year, he better damn well be for Marcy!’ the county executive said. Oneida County annually provides $1.3 million, or roughly one-third of the MVCC operating budget. One-third comes from the state and the remaining third from student tuition.
Boehlert also pointed out that the county owns both the land and the buildings at MVCC, which would immediately establish an obstacle for the state if co-location is a serous consideration….”

(March 8, 1981, Utica Observer-Dispatch) – “3 New Buildings, Payne Hall Addition Outlined in Plan – The State University’s plan for co-location between Mohawk Valley Community College and the College of Technology calls for the construction of at least three new buildings and an addition to Payne Hall (the MVCC library and administration building).
The $33.8 million plan, prepared by Jerome B. Komisar, chairman of the SUNY Central Administration Planning and Budgeting Task Force, also calls for graduate facilities to be located in Rome as well as Utica, although this section of the plan has not been fully developed.
The $15.3 million first phase of construction at MVCC would include $2.7 million for administration space, $5.7 million for a new technology building, $1.1 million for data processing and computer science space, $4.4 million for the addition to Payne Hall and $1.4 million for site work, utilities and parking.
The new technology building would provide space for 426 students and the data processing center space for 89 students. The rest of the classroom space would be built in phase two.
MVCC is ready to begin a $2 million expansion to its classroom and office space this year to alleviate overcrowded conditions on the campus. The co-location plan does not mention this addition and it is not shown on the map.
Elizabeth Hubbard, chairwomen of the MVCC board, said she thought it would go on as planned despite the new plan for the campus. This space would all be used by MVCC students and would therefore not provide additional space for College of Technology students.
Also part of the plan is $4.5 million for a 500 bed dormitory and $1 million to acquire additional land for expansion and parking.
The $13 million for Phase two would establish space for over 1,000 more students, but the extra construction for this has not been detailed.
The plan says $1 million might be needed for land acquisition but does not say where the land will come from.
A rough map in the report shows that Payne Hall will be extended to the area which is now the administration parking lot. The other buildings will be laid out to complete an academic quadrangle between the gymnasium and the other campus buildings.
The map shows the administration and computer center sharing a building between Payne Hall and the gymnasium.
The two colleges would share the student center, library, central services and physical education facilities.
In Rome, the plan calls for a combination of the extension campuses the two colleges operate there, but does not specify how this would be done….”

(March 9, 1981, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “State pitch for building at MVCC batted back by local leaders – A $33.8 million proposal to build a State University College of Technology on the Utica campus of Mohawk Valley Community College, with graduate facilities located In Rome, was presented to area educational and elected officials Saturday afternoon by SUNY Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
What he took back to Albany was the resounding objection of his audience to this alternative to the campus the area wants – at Marcy – a campus Wharton said would cost $58.3 million and would be ‘unwise and undesirable.’
While refusing to confirm that the MVCC alternative is the one he will recommend to the SUNY Board of Trustees when it meets in Albany March 17 and 18, this detailed proposal was the only one discussed at length at a closed meeting Saturday at the Trailway Inn, New Hartford.
During a press conference following the two-hour session, Wharton said to announce his recommendation ‘would pre-empt the opportunity to make the recommendation to the board, and it’s the board which has to make the decision.’
He reviewed the MVCC proposal and three other options to the Marcy site sketchily outlined in a prepared report with the media, and said of the reaction ‘it will come as no surprise to you that they (about 50 people attending by invitation) all favored Marcy.’
The chancellor said ‘they expressed strong reservations to the proposal, and I will transmit their views to the SUNY Board of Trustees.’
Responding to the solidarity of the county leaders for a new campus in Marcy, where the state has already spent $7 million for land acquisition and site preparation, Wharton commented ‘Local sentiment will be an important factor in the board’s decision, but how much importance, I don’t know.’
When asked for Gov. Carey’s reaction to a proposal to co-locate the College of Technology on the campus of the two-year community college, Wharton said ‘we have not talked about it.’
Reminded that Carey has asked that the college ‘get off the ground in 1981,’ the chancellor said he, as head of the state’s 64-campus university system ‘shared in the sense of impatience felt by all regarding a decision on the campus and its future. I believe this has to be decided as soon as possible,’ he said.
He indicated that wherever the permanent home of the College of Technology is located, construction would be completed by 1985, and that cost projections in the state proposal are based on 1985 dollars values.
Wharton said he was unable to give many details about the proposal to establish the SUNY graduate programs in Rome, except to point out that both the College of Technology and MVCC operate centers in Rome which could be adapted to graduate courses. The study made by his staff, he said, does not contain the detail at the graduate level as it does for the undergraduate program.
‘This would require further exploration, including the legal aspects of the program, and we have not had the opportunity to study this in depth,’ the chancellor said.
The SUNY center is located in the 70-year-old former Barringer elementary school building at 303 W. Liberty St., and the MVCC branch campus occupies the former Oneida County Hospital site on Upper Floyd Avenue.
The report presented by Wharton acknowledged the need for the College of Technology in the Mohawk Valley, and said that while MVCC and Herkimer County Community College ‘are already making a contribution at the lower-division level’ in the technologies, ‘the College of Technology, however, has not yet fully developed its intended capacity in the upper division technology.
‘Our studies further indicate,’ the report continued, ‘that there is a critical unmet need at the graduate level in the Rome and Utica areas.’
Construction of the college at MVCC, according to Wharton, would cost $33.8 million - $15.3 for space for the technologies programs; $13 million to house remaining academic programs; $4.5 million for a 500-bed dormitory, and $1 million for land acquisition.
Wharton said the plan would be to acquire ‘park land across the street.’ This land is owned by the City of Utica. There was no mention of acquiring Utica School District property housing Columbus Elementary School or Proctor High, both of which lie to the north of the MVCC campus. Utica expects to close several school buildings but neither of these are scheduled for disposition.
Figures for developing the Marcy site, or developing a campus at other publicized alternative locations were included in the report, but not details as was the MVCC proposal.
Marcy site: $58.5 million - $49 million for construction; $5 million for land acquisition and site, and housing for 500 students, $4.5 million.
There was no explanation of the cost for site acquisition, but there was a comment that the 800-acre site (already owned by the state) is adequate for any future expansion; that a good road network already exists; that some sitework is completed.
Utica Psychiatric Center: %51.3 million - $1 million for building demolition; $19.8 million for rehabilitation of the medical-surgical building for the technologies program; $.6 million for rehabilitation of the assembly hall and business office; $21.4 million for new construction; and $8.5 million for rehabilitating the medical-surgical building for dormitory space for 500 students.
It was pointed out that the original building, which is listed on the National Historic Trust, could not be altered because of its museum status.
Liberty Street site, Utica: $45.7 million - $3.5 million for building acquisition; $5.2 million for additional land acquisition and site work; $10.3 million for rehabilitation and renovation and demolition of buildings; $26.7 million for new construction. There was no figure included in this alternative for student housing or further description of the site.
Downtown Utica: $43.5 million to $47.5 million – all in new construction, with the City of Utica to provide land, parking garage, auditorium, demolition and site preparation; and the private sector to provide housing.
This is essentially the plan presented by Utica Mayor Stephen J. Pawlinga in 1978 and rejected a year later by the SUNY Board of Trustees as being unfeasible.
The chancellor’s report concluded that neither of the Utica alternatives are cost-effective or desirable campus alternatives; that the Utica Psychiatric Center proposal is ‘low’ because it does not include the expense of necessary new roofs, and that it is neither fiscally ‘prudent’ nor in the interest of the SUNY system to build a new campus at Marcy.
‘To build a totally new capus is unwise and undesirable,’ the report said, because ‘the state’s fiscal situation warrants prudence; building a new campus when other campuses in SUNY system have unmet building needs begs the question of priorities, and stable enrollments and fiscal constraints require that the most cost-effective solutions be sought.’
On the other hand, the report promotes the co-location at MVCC because:
- There is a very high degree of program complementarity between the technological programs at MVCC and the proposed ones for the College of Technology. The opportunities for program strengthening of both institutions are thereby increased.
- There need be no confusion of mission or loss of identity from co-location. Similar arrangements, such as the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse and the Statutory Colleges at Cornell have worked well.
- Co-location offers much greater flexibility for the future – both for the region and the SUNY system – to deal with any changes in enrollment patterns and program shifts.
- Co-location would achieve more effective utilization of physical and financial resources for both institutions than two separate locations.
- The combined size of the two institutions (by 1984) would be a headcount of about 11,000 students thereby offering significant economies of scale in program and operational costs.
- The programmatic space needs of the College of Technology would be met by the co-location option in virtually the same fashion as a full new campus at Marcy.
- Construction of necessary facilities at MVCC could be completed at the same time, if not earlier, than if construction were to proceed at Marcy In other words, the MVCC site would not result in further delays.
- Co-location would allow meeting the building and permanent site needs of the College of Technology at a cost-effective level while strengthening the educational benefits of both institutions.”

(March 11, 1981, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “MVCC trustees 8-1 against sharing campus with College of Technology – The Mohawk Valley Community College board of trustees is on record against Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton Jr.’s proposal to co-locate the State University College of Technology on MVCC’s Utica campus.
Most trustees said they believe there simply isn’t enough space in the Sherman Avenue (sic) area to accommodate both colleges.
The board voted 8-1 Tuesday afternoon in favor of trustee David Mathis’ proposal that members oppose co-location. Only trustee Dorothy Durr voted nay.
The trustees’ meeting, held on the Rome Extension Center on Floyd Avenue, was the first time board members gathered since Wharton’s weekend visit in which he described a $33.8 million proposal to build the upper division college’s campus at MVCC, instead of on state-owned land in the Town of Marcy….”

In September, 1986, MVCC and the SUNY College of Technology at Utica/Rome initiated a joint admissions program. The agreement guaranteed incoming MVCC students automatic admission to a parallel program at the College of Technology on graduation from MVCC.

(Dec. 11, 1998, College news release) – “MVCC Leaders Express Concern About Proposed Mission Change at SUNY Institute of Technology – Chairman N. Joseph Yagey, of the Mohawk Valley Community College Board of Trustees, and the College’s President, Michael I. Schafer, met with members of the news media today to express concern about a recently publicized proposal to change the mission of the State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome.
Recent news reports described a proposal by the SUNY Institute to begin offering first and second-year courses in selected programs. At present, the mission of the SUNY Institute is to serve students in their third and fourth year of college, as well as graduate students.
The MVCC officials pointed out today that the SUNY proposal would have a potentially devastating effect on the mission of Mohawk Valley Community College and its enrollment. They stated that this proposed change at SUNY would severely curtail the ability of MVCC to provide the high quality of affordable education and services for which the institution has been known for more than 50 years. The proposal could, they said, represent a turn of events of emergency proportions for MVCC.
Mr. Yagey and Dr. Schafer said that MVCC fully supports the SUNY Institute of Technology’s aspiration to add engineering and other appropriate graduate and undergraduate programs. At present, they added, many talented graduates of MVCC and the other two-year institutions are often forced to leave the area to complete their Bachelor’s degrees, often at much greater personal expense.
However, they stressed that it would not be appropriate or beneficial for the SUNY Institute to begin offering first and second year courses. This, they said, would duplicate offerings not only at MVCC, but possibly also at Herkimer County Community College, and at the SUNY College of Technology at Morrisville. They also pointed out that Utica College may be adversely impacted. They maintained that adding first and second year courses at the SUNY Institute of Technology would put these other highly effective institutions at risk and waste public resources.
Creating new competitive four-year degree programs, they said, may well erode existing quality programs in the community colleges, which have a long track record of success, and which involve substantial taxpayer investment. The MVCC leaders say that the proposed four-year programs may spread students and instructional resources so thinly that all the institutions – two-year and upper division colleges – suffer.
They added that the two-year colleges, especially MVCC, already have science laboratories and general education faculty needed for first and second year instruction. These would have to be added at SUNY, they predict, at significant expense.
They also suggested that greater collaboration between the SUNY Institute and the region’s public two-year colleges may bring a new level of cost-effectiveness, including new opportunities for cross-registration by students at several institutions simultaneously, and for sharing facilities and professors.
They pointed out that a key goal of SUNY’s own “Rethinking SUNY” planning project, and a current piece of State legislation (S1358), is to avoid costly program duplication among SUNY campuses.
Schafer and Yagey dismissed predictions that community colleges, in particular, would not be affected by this mission change because of different admission standards, adding that many of the area’s very best students choose community colleges for their programs, small classes and personal attention, as well as for their lower cost.
They suggested that the appropriate way for the SUNY Institute to address its enrollment concerns is to work in partnership with local two-year public institutions such as MVCC, HCCC and SUNY Morrisville. They pointed out that such collaboration has been highly effective in the past, but that there is much more that can be done. By complementing programs at the two-year institutions, they said, the two-year colleges, the SUNY Institute of Technology, and students at each institution would all benefit.
In closing, they observed that this proposal puts the area’s public institutions of higher education on a path to competition rather than cooperation. Cooperation, they said, is the best solution for enrollment concerns at the SUNY Institute of Technology, and provides a win-win answer for all the institutions, the students, and the community.”

(Jan 9, 1999, guest column, Utica Observer-Dispatch) –By William Perrotti - “Guest View – SUNY changes bad for community colleges – Your Jan. 2 editorial urges state officials to ‘lobby SUNY for action’ to improve its outlook. I assume this is supportive for changing the mission of SUNY at Utica/Rome to allow the admission of 1st and 2nd year students.
Such a plan to change SUNY is poorly conceived at best and very likely to have a detrimental effect on all the institutions of higher education in the region.
We must not lose sight of the fact that SUNY at Utica/Rome was established as an upper division institution (3rd and 4th years of college) with a technology emphasis against an existing backdrop that included three nearby two-year institutions. SUNY at Utica/Rome proposes changing its mission to eliminate an enrollment shortfall. Their proposal places SUNY, MVCC, HCCC, SUNY Morrisville and Utica College in direct competition with each other for 1st and 2nd year students. It is the institutional version of ‘every man for himself’ and is an ill-advised strategy for Central New York. With all regional institutions fighting for students, prospects for improved enrollment are lessened at each and the atmosphere for interinstitutional cooperation poisoned.
Also, given that the impacted institutions are public, the costs for this needless duplication would ultimately be borne by area taxpayers. Such a move just doesn’t make sense. Not when the solution is so simple – cooperation. SUNY’s mission should remain as an upper division college. MVCC and HCCC already have the physical facilities and the personnel to serve the needs of traditional and non-traditional first and second year college students. Both community colleges offer a wide variety of successful associate degree programs. Enrollment in many of these established programs would surely improve if progression to SUNY’s third and fourth years was known to be guaranteed and seamless.
Likewise, SUNY’s enrollment would certainly benefit if such arrangements were widely publicized and generally known. SUNY should be looking to build upon the successful programs which already exist at these community colleges rather than try to duplicate what is already in place. A closer working relationship between MVCC and HCCC and SUNY would facilitate the joint development of new programs that could start at the community college level and be completed at SUNY. Successful examples of cooperation already exist in such programs as nursing, medical records, business management. We should follow that model. Improve on it. Expand it. SUNY wants an electrical engineering program. Great! MVCC already has a well established associate degree program. Build on it and we all benefit. Other possibilities exist in many disciplines including science, graphic communication, social sciences to name just a few. There are countless opportunities for curricular development, growth and expansion.
The public educational institutions in the Central New York area are a tremendous value to the residents of the Mohawk Valley. That value will only appreciate if all these institutions recognize each’s worth and work together for the common good. Area students, young and old, deserve affordable high quality education in an ever-expanding number of disciplines right here at home. With our colleges working as partners, this can happen and we would lose less of our student talent pool to four-year schools farther afield.
Cooperation, not competition, is the key. A different mission for SUNY that includes first and second year students hurts the region. It is a very bad idea.”
William Perrotti is a professor in the Life Science Department of MVCC and president of the MVCC Professional Association.

(On Dec 16th, 1998, President Schafer addressed the Oneida County Board of Legislators on this topic, making many of the same points)

(March 2, 1999 – excerpt from e-mail by President Schafer to MVCC faculty and staff) – “The last college-wide statements we made about the concerns we have with the SUNYIT Mission Review Documents and their proposed mission changes were fairly contentious. I felt (and still feel) that we must do everything in our power to prevent them from expanding their mission into offering freshman and sophomore level courses. We didn’t stop with our series of meetings and widespread mailings to community and political leaders. Vice Presidents Bolton and DiGiorgio have joined me in more than twelve hours of meetings with their counterparts and the Presidents of SUNYIT and HCCC. A lot of the early discussion time was spent in our spelling out the whys and wheretofores of our opposition to their expansion into the first two years. We also tried to indicate our support for a degree at SUNYIT in Electrical Engineering and a broader set of offerings at the upper division and graduate levels and proposed in their Mission Review document. They spent much time spelling out why lower division coursework was essential for their survival. And of course why those relatively few engineering students couldn’t be the only freshmen on campus. Their plans included lower division work in Business, Accounting, Computer Applications and related programs, Sociology, Psychology, and almost everything else they offer except Nursing and the Technologies.

The most recent meeting was very positive. We acknowledge that SUNYIT has an enrollment problem that must be addressed. We further acknowledge that they will have an even more serious financial problem if they are not able to fill their residence halls. It is our belief that both can be addressed by working more effectively together rather than by expanding their offerings into freshman and sophomore courses. We made a number of suggestions which are being considered and implemented where feasible. These include:
1. Guest speakers from SUNYIT
2. Mailings, e-mail from SUNYIT
3. Joint admissions trips to high schools
4. Spell out the entire 4 year program
5. Brochures
6. Exchange faculty
7. Use of distance learning
8. Joint activities
9. Special registration
10. Reduced tuition
11. SUNY Club at MVCC
12. Use of facilities/weight room, etc.
13. Special section of ED100
14. Summer classes freshman-sophomore years
15. Special open houses
16. Athletics
17. Parents of joint admissions during freshmen scheduling
18. SUNYIT advisor on campus at regular intervals (as now happens with Oneonta)
19. Graphics and Photography
20. Department heads and faculty here should explore/propose other possible programs for joint admissions agreements. Faculty at SUNYIT will be asked to do the same
21. A scholarship-with-medal will be developed for MVCC and HCCC graduates by SUNYIT
22. Joint athletics and international student recruiting
Please consider what else we might do to partner with them so they no longer have to consider options that would negatively impact on MVCC. I assure you as I have Dr. Cayan and his staff that I will do everything in my personal and professional power to fight those changes if I have to. In the interim, I believe this positive approach will be more productive. Importantly, it will potentially open some unique and positive transfer opportunities and services for our students.”

(March 8, 2001, Utica Observer-Dispatch) – “SUNY Utica/Rome plans 4-year college program – SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome will make the transition to a four-year college by 2003, Gov. George Pataki and SUNY Chancellor Robert King said Wednesday….
While met with praise from many, leaders of the region’s two community colleges expressed concern the change would put SUNY Utica/Rome into competition with them.
The school is one of seven upper-level transfer-only institutions nationwide, and the only such SUNY school.
SUNY Utica/Rome specializes in technology-related programs and caters largely to students who move on from Herkimer County Community College, both members of the SUNY system. About 25 percent of SUNY Utica/Rome’s student population attended MVCC at one time, while 9 percent attended HCCC.
Not all programs will become four-year, SUNY Utica/Rome President Peter Cayan said, but exactly which programs will make the change are yet undecided. The school must come up with a specific plan for students, curriculum and faculty, which must be approved by the SUNY Board of Trustees and the state education department – and that could take some time, considering SUNY Utica/Rome is the first in the system to make the change from upper-level to four-year…
But while declaring SUNY’s growth would benefit the region academically and economically, Pataki also was careful to note that the college won’t be in direct competition with HCCC and MVCC.
‘We’re very aware of and appreciative of the tremendous job the community colleges do,’ Pataki said. ‘But (SUNY Utica/Rome) is not in competition. It will be synergistic and will attract students from across the state and country.’
That’s the way MVCC President Michael I. Schafer said he hopes it works, though when it came to Wednesday’s announcement, the community colleges were made aware of the news at the last minute. He said he was assured MVCC and HCCC would be part of the change and would be brought in as partners.
‘Basically, we’ve known for about three years they’ve been exploring developing four-year programs in selected disciplines with highly selective admission criteria. If that’s what evolves, we think that can be very good for the area,’ Schafer said. ‘O the other hand, if they expand programs where we already have strong transfer programs and force unnecessary duplication, that could be a real loss of limited public resources.’
HCCC President Ronald Williams said he shares many of Schafer’s concerns.
‘There’s no question that this development has the potential to have a real impact on many areas of our operation,’ Williams said. ‘Our response in general will be to continue to do what we’ve done for 34 years as a community college, providing top-notch affordable education for everyone who takes that opportunity.’
Ronald Sarner, SUNY Utica/Rome executive vice president for academic affairs, said the school’s move to become a four-year college isn’t likely to dramatically affect the nearby community colleges.
‘We don’t see ourselves in competition with them. (We’ll focus on) programs that don’t work very well as transfer student programs, for example engineering and photonics,’ Sarner said. ‘Students interested in those programs, by and large, are going to four-year facilities right off, and we could not attract a sufficient number of students to make those viable programs.’
Sarner explained that only 200 freshmen will be accepted when the program begins in 2003.
‘It’s an economic advantage for us to continue to be a largely transfer institution,’ Sarner said. ‘State support is dramatically lower for freshmen and sophomores than for juniors and seniors.’
And the marriage between SUNY community colleges and SUNY four-year institutions has proved effective elsewhere in the state, he said, and SUNY Utica/Rome’s relationship with HCCC and MVCC shouldn’t be any different.
Besides, Sarner said, SUNY Utica/Rome’s tuition is significantly higher at about $3,400 per year, while MVCC and HCCC tuition is about $1,000 less – they’re often catering to different students….”

(March 8, 2001, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Community colleges brace for four-year SUNY – The decision to expand SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome to four years of undergraduate study has the region’s two-year schools assessing what the impact might be on their enrollments.
SUNY Utica/Rome has traditionally relied on students transferring from schools like Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County Community College to fill the slots at the upper division school. But, it was announced Wednesday that SUNY Utica/Rome will grow from offering traditional third-and fourth-year studies for transfer students to offering a full slate of bachelor’s degrees. The first freshman class at the college is expected to begin in the fall of 2003.
The transition of the SUNY Utica/Rome to a four-year college represents the first time in SUNY’s 53-year history that the region will be home to a four-year campus.
College officials are now studying what four-year programs will be offered and the cost of expanding the college established in 1966. Utica/Rome has been one of the shrinking number of upper-division-only colleges in the nation as they have increasingly moved to the traditional four-year format to shore up student enrollment.
The institute was establish in 1966 as SUNY’s only school for college juniors and seniors to meet the needs of graduates of two-year colleges who wanted to extend their professional and technical education. Many students from the two community colleges continue their academic careers at Utica/Rome.
For MVCC President Michael I. Schafer, the issue comes down to what four-year programs SUNY Utica/Rome offers. He said the expanded mission of the college could be academically and economically beneficial if the school offers classes that are new and unique, especially in high-tech areas.
On the other hand, he says if SUNY Utica/Rome duplicates offerings available at schools like MVCC and HCCC it will be a ‘waste of very limited public resources.’ These areas include business, computer applications and liberal arts.
About 25 percent of SUNY Utica/Rome’s undergraduate and graduate students have attended Mohawk at one time.
Schafer is hopeful that duplication can be avoided by SUNY Utica/Rome working with the schools that have been a source of transfer students. He said he has been told that MVCC and HCCC will be a part of the process to plan what programs will be offered to freshmen and hopes that this partnership comes to pass.
HCCC President Ronald F. Williams has a cautious outlook about the change at SUNY Utica/Rome. ‘There is no question that this development has the potential to have an impact on many areas of our operation. Our response will be to continue what we have done for more than 30 years at Herkimer County Community College. We will provide access to a top-notch, affordable education to all and an opportunity for those who complete their degrees at Herkimer to enter the workforce or to further their education at four-year institutions,’ he said in a statement.
HCCC is the second largest source of SUNY Utica-Rome students with 9 percent of them having attended Herkimer.
Other schools sending significant numbers of students to SUNY Utica/Rome are SUNY Morrisville, Hudson Valley Community College and Onondaga Community College.
Currently, SUNY Utica-Rome confers 20 bachelor degrees on students who have completed their first two years at other institutions. It also offers 11 master’s degree programs. ….”

(March 2003, letter to editor of Observer-Dispatch by President Schafer) – “Quality Education – The President of SUNYIT was recently quoted in the Observer-Dispatch as saying ‘students who go to community colleges aren’t even qualified to apply here. They don’t even meet the initial filter.’ Anyone who would say that clearly has no experience or understanding of comprehensive community colleges like Mohawk Valley Community College.
We understand that SUNYIT wishes to create an image based upon high admission standards. We have already earned a reputation for quality that causes many of the best and brightest students to choose MVCC. Our students are not only accepted by the most prestigious public and private institutions in the country, they are recruited. Engineers, scientists, professors, doctors, lawyers and Ph.D.’s proudly reflect our theme, MVCC First.
Every year, hundreds of student who could easily be admitted to highly selective schools, choose to study in MVCC’s classrooms and laboratories. This semester alone, we have more than 50 Presidential scholars who qualify by being from the top ten percent of their high school class. This year 529 of our student scholars qualify for Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college academic honorary.
We speak with pride of our role as a truly open door institution, serving all who can benefit from our wide range of programs. We are also proud that students of the highest ability recognize real educational value when they see it. They understand that quality comes from the education they receive, not from screening at the time of admission.”


(April 15, 2003, Observer-Dispatch – SUNYIT competes with community colleges –As a retired MVCC instructor and administrator, I contest SUNYIT’s President (Mason) Somerville’s statements (March 16 O-D) that its four-year programs will not compete with community colleges.
MVCC already offers associate degree programs in a majority of SUNYIT’s new program areas. In one of them, mathematics, SUNYIT has, since its inception, been offering courses with content identical to MVCC’s while masquerading them as junior level. That dishonesty has also existed in other disciplines as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Ron Sarner essentially admitted when he stated, “(SUNYIT) already offers many entry-level courses and won’t have to revamp its curriculum.”
That’s not competition? Such duplicity makes me skeptical of SUNYIT’s pledge to maintain a selective admissions policy, especially in view of President Somerville’s envisioning its enrollment doubling, perhaps increasing tenfold.
Demographics change; I’ve learned that educational standards, policies ad decisions – such as instituting four-year degree programs – are driven by enrollment needs.
Richard Meili, Waterville

(April 16, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – Somerville’s word choices questioned – This letter is in response to a dialog between SUNYIT President Mason Somerville, who, during an interview with the O-D, said MVCC students ‘don’t even meet the initial filter,’ (March 16) and the president of MVCC, Mike Schafer, who wrote a letter (March 30) defending the academic standards of my college.
(April 11), I was upset to find that an MVCC alum was critical of Schafer’s letter, claiming that Schafer was “uncomfortable with the growth of SUNYIT.”
The letter writer missed the point of President Schafer’s letter. Regardless if it was intentional, when President Somerville spoke about MVCC students as if they are academically inferior to their Institute counterparts, I was honestly, deeply offended. Mr. Schafer’s letter defended the integrity of what Mr. Schafer, I and thousands of other MVCC students work hard at every day. We don’t question the “visionary leadership” of Mr. Somerville, we question his taste in words.
Aaron Glass, MVCC Student, Clinton

(April 17, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – Somerville’s remarks untrue, divisive – As a returning adult student at Mohawk Valley Community College, I was offended by the statements of President Mason Somerville regarding the qualifications of MVCC students (March 16). My experience has afforded me an academically challenging curriculum set forth by a very professional faculty. My classmates are dedicated and talented young and older individuals.
Aside from my personal concerns, I am more troubled by the community implications of these statements. I had occasion to meet President Somerville, who had expressed a desire to develop greater communication and academic articulation with the various academic institutions of our community, and to pursue a research and development path for SUNYIT. Obviously, President Somerville’s position has changed. This is unfortunate for our community, which is diligently working to promote concerted effort for area growth.
Cynthia DuRoss, New Hartford

(May 11, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – SUNYIT and MVCC can thrive, help region – I am a 1986 graduate of MVCC. I read MVCC President Michael Schafer’s letter (March 30) with disappointment. Although it appears there’s cooperation between MVCC and SUNYIT, Mr. Schafer’s discomfort with the growth of SUNYIT is also apparent.
Here are some things to keep in perspective:
- A community college exists to benefit the community, not its own stature.
- Thousands of MVCC alumni have left the community due to underemployment. SUNYIT is one of many magnets needed to grow the region’s economy.
- Monopoly breeds stagnation. Competition breeds innovation and new offerings. Both MVCC and SUNYIT can thrive if they innovate, cooperate and progress in manners consistent with their respective missions.
-Utica-Rome has historically been underserved in higher education. The region’s current state of affairs is partially a reflection of this.
- SUNYIT President Mason Somerville articulated an ambitious but realistic and community-oriented growth plan for SUNYIT. Utica-Rome and SUNYIT are blessed to have his visionary leadership.
Mark Harf, New York City

(May 11, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – Somerville should apologize for remarks – Shock and awe! No, I am not writing about Iraq. I am referring to the verbal blast attributed to SUNYIT’s President Mason Somerville (March 16) that “Students who go to community colleges aren’t even qualified to apply here. They don’t even meet the initial filter.”
As a mathematics professor emeritus from Mohawk Valley Community College, I take issue with his remarks. It is abundantly clear that President Somerville possesses a woeful lack of understanding about quality community colleges such as MVCC.
At MVCC, we introduced students to exceptionally well qualified faculty – experts in their disciplines – and nurtured them toward successful completion of a two-year associate degree. Our students were recruited vigorously by prestigious institutions. Our faculty, staff and administration held our heads high.
I believe (no, demand) that as the president of a public institution, Dr. Somerville should apologize for his flagrant statements.
In my opinion, he is no credit to the greater Utica area.
Lawrence A. Trivieri, Stone Mountain, Ga.

(May 16, 2003 – Rome Observer) – Shame on SUNY President – Did Mason Somerville stop to think of the impact when he said, ‘Students who go to community colleges aren’t even qualified to apply here. They don’t even meet the initial filter”?
Does he know how many students now at SUNY are graduates of MVCC? Is he aware how many engineers, scientists, business men and women went to MVCC and SUNY?
If not, why not? He should make it his business to know.
He owes an apology to MVCC faculty and students and SUNY faculty (and) students because his remarks offended many. I have taught at MVCC and SUNY, and I was pleased and proud to be associated with each college.
A college president should think before he speaks. Insulting faculty, students, and residents is reprehensible, and Mason Somerville should apologize now.
Nancy Kobryn, Utica

(July 1, 2003, Observer-Dispatch – SUNYIT president owes students apology – Ever since reading SUNYIT President Somerville’s unfortunate remarks March 16 about community college students not being qualified for acceptance, I have been waiting for someone to set the record straight.
Somerville’s facts are not only conjecture, they are incorrect. To make such a claim after only recently arriving in the area and without knowledge of the facts says something about his judgment or, rather, lack of judgment.
Obviously, he is unaware that many MVCC students have transferred to SUNY after graduation, that over 60 MVCC students were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class and have tuition-free Presidential Scholarships or that hundreds of others have gone on to colleges just as or more difficult for acceptance than SUNY.
There has always been close ties between MVCC and SUNYIT, and eroding that relationship without documented information is not the smartest way to begin his career in this area. Perhaps he would be wise to consider undoing the harm he has done. He could start, a recent writer suggested, with an apology.
Gilbert Jones, New Hartford

(July 2, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – 2-year schools made SUNYIT what it is – This is in response to a letter regarding the remarks made by SUNY-IT President Mason Somerville.
I read an interesting article in USA Today regarding two-year colleges. The headline was “Two-year schools aim high: They’re giving honors students a boost to big name colleges.”
Today, the two-year colleges are preparing students to excel in the workplace and continuing education.
Currently, all the students at SUNYIT are two-year transfer students and there are many successful occupations being held by SUNYIT graduates.
I hope in the future, SUNYIT doesn’t discriminate against community colleges. Those are the students who built SUNYIT to where it is today.
Shane M. Smith, Utica

(July 9, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – SUNYIT president says remarks misinterpreted – Earlier this year, in a phone interview with an O-D reporter, I responded to several questions concerning SUNYIT’s possible enrollment impact on local community colleges.
I explained the likelihood of a negative impact was very low. During this interview, I made no comments concerning our transfer students.
I regret having made a statement that’s been misinterpreted. The transfer students we have served have been well prepared and successful in our programs. SUNYIT faculty, staff, and I value those students and we will continue to provide them with high quality educational opportunities.
Our area is fortunate to have several excellent institutions that provide higher education opportunities, including Mohawk Valley Community College and Herkimer County Community College. In fulfilling SUNYIT’s teaching, research and service mission to New York, we will work with these and other institutions to attract outstanding students to the Mohawk Valley.
Mason H. Somerville, President, SUNYIT

(November 14, 2003, Observer-Dispatch) – College president’s remarks are damaging – During an O-D interview (March 16), SUNYIT President Mason Somerville stated community college students don’t even meet the “initial filter” into SUNYIT. More recently, SUNYIT Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences Michael Hochberg quoted Somerville as mandating removal of community college professors from the school’s advisory committees because they come from “inferior schools” (O-D, Nov. 7).
As an alumnus of MVCC and SUNYIT, I attest that both colleges offer challenging, rigorous curriculums. Some students attend MVCC for the location, price, or because they are unsure of their career and later attend Ivy League schools. Some MVCC professors are superior educators, such as the professor who influenced my career path.
Regrettably, Somerville’s quasi-apology about his remarks, in which he regretted being “misinterpreted” (letter to the editor, July 9), doesn’t cut it. I respectfully suggest that someone who exudes greater humility, understanding, leadership and community spirit should replace him.
Christopher Martin, Clinton

(NOTE On May 26th, 2004, following a vote of no confidence the previous September, and the resignation of the college’s deans, Mason Somerville resigned as president of SUNYIT)

(June 8, 2005, Observer-Dispatch) – “Colleges study merger – MVCC, SUNYIT to discuss futures – Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome may have a merger in their futures.
Combining the community college and the four-year school could offer greater educational opportunities in the area and cut costs to taxpayers, Oneida County Executive Joseph A. Griffo and college officials said Tuesday.
The possibility has been discussed already with SUNY officials and area state representatives. Talks are planned to assess the feasibility of any collaboration.
Although there is some enthusiasm for the plan at the local level, others worry the mission of each school could be lost.
SUNY Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff Betty Capaldi called talk of a merger premature.
‘A merger is going a little far at this time,’ Capaldi said. ‘We don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re studying increased collaboration and seeing how the institutions could work more closely.’
She did, however, say that a merger had been discussed for a long time, and if SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome took advantage of MVCC’s lower division programming, it could allow them to focus on its own upper division technical programming.
Among the concerns are affordable tuition, student programs, faculty salaries ad benefits.
Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, said she still needs convincing.
‘I had a lot of questions that they couldn’t answer,’ she said.
Her concerns center on preserving the services MVCC supplies to the community.
‘The programs, the degrees, the flexibility a community college has, the finances, the whole administration, who owns the building?’ she listed.
She said it was of paramount importance that an affordable associate’s degree continues to be available in the community; and that the certificate, continuing education and retraining programs offered remain.
Sen. Ray Meier, R-Western, agreed, saying the merger could be a good idea, but only if those and other details were worked out.
‘Like a lot of other complicated things, the devil is in the details,’ he said. ‘Conceptually, it seems to make sense, so long as you preserve the options and flexibility offered by both institutions.’
Still, the move could offer richer and more varied opportunities to area students, and prove more cost effective overall, local government and school officials said.
MVCC President Michael Schafer suggested that SUNYIT could expand its programs to include upper divisions of some MVCC offerings.
Griffo said he had approached the presidents of the two schools about the idea, and Schafer said he and SUNYIT President Peter Spina had long discussed ways the schools could collaborate.
There is no precedent for such a move in New York state. It would have to be approved by the state government and Oneida County, which partially funds MVCC.
‘We have a lot of close relationships with SUNYIT,’ Schafer said. ‘Pete Spina and I have talked about ways to make the collaboration a better one, or even operate as a single one.’
He and Spina spoke positively about the possibility. The discussions are at a very preliminary stage, they and other officials said. ‘The word proposal is too premature,’ Schafer said, adding that key details such as tuition, faculty salaries and benefits had not been hammered out.
Still, Spina said he had first heard the idea when he was hired a year ago. This school year is the first in which SUNYIT has accepted freshmen and sophomores.
The possibility was formally discussed at a meeting in Albany between Schafer, Spina, Capaldi and SUNY Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges Carol Eaton.
More meetings with SUNY officials are set for today.
Schafer said he would insist that MVCC’s open enrollment policy remain intact, and that it continue to offer a multiplicity of programs to serve the diverse needs and interests of the community.
But he and Spina said they thought if such details could be worked out it would be a positive development for both schools.
Additionally, the two schools’ faculty members are on different pay scales. Also, MVCC has open enrollment, while SUNYIT has competitive admission.
MVCC serves more than 5,500 students, while SUNYIT serves 1,500, of which 150 are freshmen and sophomores.
Oneida County is putting close to $6.4 million toward MVCC in 2005. Traditionally, the budgets of the state’s community colleges are equally split three ways between student tuition, the state and the county where they are located.
The possible merger would shift the county’s financial burden to the state. But a key question is whether the savings reaped by combining would offset the new costs the state would take on.
If merged, the schools administrations could be consolidated, as could other services both schools offer.
‘It all comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers wearing different hats,’ Meier noted.
Schafer noted that both he and Spina are planning on leaving their posts in the near future. Because neither has a stake in safeguarding the existence of their own job, they could make the decision to eliminate one of the positions objectively, he said.
Griffo said the plan would not jeopardize the Utica and Rome campuses of MVCC.
Spina said combining the schools could have a positive impact on the area.
‘We have a number of excellent institutions in the Mohawk Valley,’ he said. ‘Clearly if we were one, we’d make a greater impact in terms of economic development.”


(March 10, 2006, Observer-Dispatch) – “MVCC, SUNYIT haven’t merged but are finding ways to cooperate – An institutional merger between Mohawk Valley Community College and SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome is premature, but officials from both schools say they’re examining ways to share resources.
‘I haven’t discarded the idea of an institution merger, but it’s way on the back burner,’ said SUNYIT’s Interim President Peter A. Spina.
The community college and the four-year school last June discussed linking the institutions, in hopes it would boost enrollment at SUNYIT, but are now focusing on specific joint initiatives:
● Distance learning: The schools are investigating ways to use the Internet to combine course study.
● Work force development: Designing programs that address work force needs in the Mohawk Valley is one way the schools may collaborate.
● Student development: SUNYIT began accepting first-year students in 2003 and has looked to MVCC to help prepare students for study at a four-year school.
● Program alignment: Students would be able to transition directly from MVCC to SUNYIT in some designated programs. Beginning courses would b offered at MVCC and students could continue to SUNYIT for upper-level study.
Daniel P. Larson, MVCC vice president for instruction, says both academic institutions have discussed how programs such as engineering, criminal justice, accounting, business and others would align nicely between the colleges.
‘We have good courses that are in place, but we want to strengthen them,’ Larson said.
The addition of more jobs at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in the Griffiss Business and Technology Park will create a need for people in the area to have accounting skills, Larson said. He hopes the schools’ programs will be able to educate future DFAS employees, he said.
‘We believe between SUNYIT and MVCC we could address some of those jobs,’ Larson said….
Spina, SUNYIT’s interim president, said he hopes his school can serve MVCC better than it already does. SUNYIT wants more students, and those from local colleges in particular, he said.
‘We really want to make the transfer from high school to Mohawk Valley to SUNYIT as seamless as possible,’ Spina said.
Oneida County Executive Joseph Griffo was part of merger talks last year and said looking at new and creative structures takes time, but it also has potential to produce stronger partnerships.
‘I am encouraged at the many layers of possible collaborations that are being discussed by SUNYIT and MVCC,’ Griffo said. ‘The concept of a merger has been broadened to look at ways these two valuable institutions of higher education can be configured so as to maximize their impact while minimizing the costs to the state and county taxpayers.’…”