Students have often expressed the wish that they could stay at SUNY Broome to finish their bachelor’s degree, President Kevin E. Drumm observed. While community colleges can’t grant four-year degrees themselves, SUNY Broome’s Bachelors Degree Institute offers the next best option: Taking the classes you need at SUNY Broome, and finishing your bachelor’s online.
On Nov. 29, the college celebrated the latest addition to the Bachelor’s Institute: Bellevue University, one of the country’s top open-access institutions.
“It’s truly a win for everyone involved, but most especially our students, who can achieve their educational dreams without having to leave their hometown,” President Drumm said.
Students had a chance to learn more about the partnership and Nebraska-based Bellevue at a special lunchtime celebration
in the Baldwin Gym. They were treated to free food, games and fun prizes – the latter mostly in Bellevue’s royal purple – and also had the opportunity to win two $1,000 grants to continue their education at the Heartland school.
They need never set foot on Bellevue’s campus to do so. Students take the classes they need at SUNY Broome – whether online, on campus or a blend of the two – and then finish their bachelor’s with online classes. Earning a bachelor’s through that pathway typically takes 18 to 20 months, and Bellevue also offers master’s degrees for those who wish to continue their education, said James Nekuda, Vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Bellevue.
Bellevue Relationship Manager Megan Comstock has an office on campus where she meets with students about their transfer options. Bellevue encourages students to finish their Associate’s degree first before transferring – a move that supports community colleges and also contributes to student success.
“Transfer students do much better when it comes to finishing their bachelor’s degrees,” Nekuda explained.
It’s a path similar to his own. He earned an Associate’s degree at a Nebraska community college, intending on spending a career in his family business. Feeling he needed more, he went on to Bellevue for his bachelor’s – and ended up finishing a graduate degree and working there.
SUNY Broome has a personal connection to Bellevue: Mary Dobransky, the Dean of the College of Science and Technology, a Vestal native.
When it came time to attend college, “I enrolled in what I considered to be one of the finest colleges in the nation – the one I’m standing in right now,” said Dobransky, who then went on to earn further degrees from Binghamton University.
Her niece Katie graduated from SUNY Broome’s Nursing program last year and is currently working in critical care at UHS Wilson Medical Center. When it comes time, Dobransky hopes her niece will consider finishing her bachelor’s degree at Bellevue, which offers the flexible scheduling many working adults need.
SUNY Broome’s own online courses and degree programs have been positive for adult learners, a term that describes students over the age of 25, noted SUNY Broome Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Francis Battisti. Interestingly, many of the students considering SUNY Broome’s bachelors partnership programs with Bellevue, SUNY Empire State and Excelsior College are traditional-age students. Younger people also may have jobs and families to consider, and some simply learn better online, Dr. Battisti noted.
Jennifer Conway, President and CEO of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, noted Bellevue’s commitment to community partnerships and workforce development. She hopes the partnership program encourages talented and skilled workers to stay in the Broome County area and succeed.
“The number one economic challenge this region faces is finding enough talent to fill the jobs we have available,” Dr. Drumm added.