By Nathan Mayberg
LOCH SHELDRAKE April 20, 2004 Bachelor degrees have come to Sullivan County.
Four four-year degree programs will begin at Sullivan County Community College this fall through SUNY New Paltz.
State Senator John Bonacic and Liberty businessman Alan Gerry formed a $2.9 million partnership to make it happen. Already, $1.5 million has been secured by Bonacic. The Gerry Foundation has committed up to $1.4 million .
Bachelor degrees will initially be offered in business, nursing, human services and elementary education.
SUNY New Paltz will hire 10 full-time faculty who will spend much of their time teaching classes at the SCCC campus in Loch Sheldrake. Additional classes will be offered though live, fully interactive video conferencing.
Officials expect up to 30 New Paltz courses will be offered at the Sullivan campus. An additional 20-40 courses are expected to be taught interactively.
Students entering the program through Sullivan will have to meet the academic standards of New Paltz.
Bonacic said the idea came about four years ago when he sat down with Gerry at the Villa Roma. He called a four-year college degree to be essential in todays marketplace.
The senator credited Bob King, chancellor of the SUNY system, with being instrumental in the creation of the partnership between the two schools.
The senator also thanked SUNY New Paltz President Steven Poskanzer and SCCC President Dr. Mamie Howard Golladay for their work on the project.
Bonacic called it even bigger than Sullivan County. The program will be marketed to residents of surrounding counties such as Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania.
He pointed out that the percentage of Sullivan County residents with bachelors degrees is 45 percent less than the state average.
Golladay said, Everyone benefits.
The growth of businesses in the area translates to a need for educated workers, she added.
It is one of the best things to happen to Sullivan County and the college, she concluded.
Darryl Supak, senior vice president and chief of staff for Gerrys Granite Associates, was on hand to represent Gerry and called the initiative the next step in the county moving forward.
Eight select Sullivan County residents have been taking courses for their bachelors degree at SCCC through SUNY New Paltz since January. Karen Faraci is one of them. She only lives eight minutes from the SCCC campus and said she will be saving a lot of time and money by not having to travel anymore.
Phyllis Penny Coombe of the SCCC Board of Trustees called it an exciting day for Sullivan County. Like Faraci, she said she used to travel over the mountains to New Paltz to become a certified teacher, as did her husband and many other people she knows.