There was an important visitor on Erie Communty College's north campus in Amherst Tuesday. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina Johnson greeted faculty and students as she toured the campus.
Chancellor Johnson, an engineer and former energy secretary - was most intrigued with visiting the college’s new STEM building and a tour of ECC’s Nano-Technology learning. Johnson, now in her second year, as the leader of 64-campusus state-wide, tells WBFO News it's important to get a close up view of student learning.
“I like to see the students. I like to see faculty and I’m looking forward to learning just what some of the opportunities and challenges are,” remarked Johnson.
Chancellor Johnson interacted with Rich Hill, master electronic technician for electrical engineering and Nano-Technology at ECC.
“I just really believe that college is the new high school, so every student has to go on – get higher education – the world is just too competitive and we want to help our students find their way,” Johnson noted.
ECC freshman Yousif Alkawaz was one of two student ambassadors on the tour. He came from Iraq two years ago and graduated from Cheektowaga Central High School and is now in the dentistry program.
“They really take care of all students. They don’t let students suffer or struggle that much without help. They have a lot of tutors and personal tutors that you can sit and talk to even if you have academic troubles or something like that,” said Alkawaz.
In a room set up much like a hospital ER, nursing students were learning how to conduct physical assessments.
“So we have all the proper equipment – the tables,” said Beth Nicastro, nursing instructor.
Nicastro said mid-way through the semester, students are already conducting clinical work in the field at nursing homes and rehab centers.
“Our goal is that a student will be able to conduct a head to toe physical assessment on a patient,” Nicastro explained
ECC President Dan Hocoy accompanied the chancellor on her tour and said it is important for her to witness the "good work" of students and faculty.
“I really see us as a ‘pivot institution’ and we’re making a big impact on Western New York and so I think she got a taste of that today,” Hocoy said.
The chancellor visit comes as ECC is awaiting word on from The Middle States on two accreditation standards. Last year ECC was issued a warning for “educational effectiveness and finances.” But Hocoy said they just had a visit from Middle States this month and expect a decision sometime in November.
“You know I’m cautiously optimistic, but I think we will get ‘off warning’ for those standards. I think we are in a very good position,” Hocoy stated.