Westchester Community College Center for the Digital Arts in Peekskill believes a new partnership will make it more appealing to residents in the northern part of the county who want to continue their education.
On Wednesday the college signed a memorandum of understanding with SUNY Empire State College's Hudson Valley Center to share resources and courses at the Peekskill satellite office.
The agreement will provide a clear path for students to move forward with their four-year degree once they finish their course work at the community college. It will also allow SUNY Empire State to make use of the Peekskill facilities staff, classes and labs and provide students in northern Westchester County an easy location to access.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to provide local students a chance to work toward a bachelor's degree in cooperation with Westchester Community College," said Meg Benke, president of SUNY Empire State College. "It creates a local opportunity with such specialized students in the area of the arts, but it also allows for expansion of this wonderful facility as far as offering general education in other areas and building upon the work that Westchester Community College does."
Westchester Community College, which was founded in 1946 as the New York State Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences in White Plains, has about 12,000 full- and part-time college credit students. That numbers increases to 24,000 once continuing education students are thrown into the mix.
The Peekskill facility currently serves more than 1,000 students a term.
"In the past, we have invited four-year institutions to provide classes and it creates greater opportunities geographically and financially. We believe we're approachable and welcome institutions to come and use our facilities."
Said Benke: "I think this type of partnership also allows people to continue working locally while pursuing their degree."
Faculty members from the two institutions have already started working together and the hope is that new courses will be offered this summer, Benke said.
Benke said SUNY Empire State College has about several thousand students in this region alone who would probably has some interest in taking courses offered in Peekskill, like digital arts and filmmaking.
Mark Miyake, head of the arts faculty at SUNY Empire State College's Hudson Valley Center, said the partnership got rolling after he initiated conversations with Sherry Mayo, the director of the Center for the Digital Arts, and Talbert Spence, assistant dean of continuing education at the community college.
"The first part of our philosophy is to be accessible to students across the state," Miyake said. "But for students locally who want to finish a four-year degree at SUNY program, we're one of the local prominent options. Purchase and New Paltz may be too far for some students, so this is a very logical place for us to partner for facility space for our student to their work."