By Marya Cabatingan
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD- Students and staff might have noticed that Camden County College is getting a facelift, and the improvements are far from over.
In 2009, the college ranked in the top eight percent of 2-year institutions in overall degree completion, excelling in degree completion in education (4th), nursing (37th) and health professions/related clinical sciences (43rd).
These accolades only whet CCC’s appetite for overall improvement, and in 2010 a new strategic plan to enrich the college experience was implemented.
The 2010-2015 strategic plan was designed to be more inclusive than previous years’ plans. The planning board collected information through town meetings, email and online surveys to create 10 focus areas.
These were further refined into specific initiatives including improving facilities, online services and recreational options on campus, as well as strengthening relationships with four-year colleges.
CCC is completing a conceptual master plan, which began in 2005, according to the Strategic Plan on the school website.
“In May 2005, the Camden County Freeholders announced an $83 million dollar initiative to transform our Blackwood campus consistent with our Master Plan. This unprecedented capital initiative is the most significant project undertaken by the College since our founding in 1967. When completed, it will affect more than half of the facilities and structural amenities on the Blackwood campus,” the site states.
This plan outlines the renovation and construction of three structures on campus. The connector building and science building have both been completed. Taft Hall is being renovated into an administrative office.
Another major focus of the plan has been expanding technology for students. This includes providing wireless Internet on all CCC campuses and the creation of a portal website for student services.
“The myCCC Portal is a one-stop location for most of your web-based activities at Camden County College. The Portal connects students, faculty and staff with College resources, services, benefits, applications, activities and opportunities,” according to the CCC website.
This current plan is scheduled to be completed by 2015, when a new master plan will be implemented over the following 10 years.
Overall, school officials hope the renovations and new additions to the college will appeal to prospective students, attract more applicants and maintain low tuition rates, said Edward Carney, director of public safety.
Carney is the facilitator of all the construction that is occurring at the Blackwood campus. He has overseen all of the projects that been done and that are to be done in the future.
Carney has several conceptual ideas for future of the campus. One area he hopes to expand on is the athletics department.
“This is my favorite, the Athletic Complex,” said Carney.
There is hope that a “Field of Dreams” will be developed on the site of the existing athletic fields.. This could include a soccer complex that can be used for field hockey, lacrosse, and softball.
Other sports projects include tennis courts, additional baseball fields, and a location for track and field. Cross country, tennis, wrestling, and volleyball could be added to the school’s roster of sports.
Carney said the college will likely not see football-related projects or programs because CCC is a 2-year institution.
The college is working toward turning each classroom into a comfortable and “smart” classroom, so outdated seats and chalkboards will be only memories. Technologies already added include dry erase boards, better computer systems and new projectors.
And this is just the beginning; CCC hopes to stay on top of new technologies as they evolve.
Jamie Savio, a CCC graduate who returned to take extra classes, said, “Everything is so modern that it helps me focus a lot more.”
Asked what changes she would like to see in the future, Savio mentioned parking, an issue often raised by students.
Parking has improved tremendously because of recent work in the parking lots, including paving over what used to be a gravel lot near the back of the campus, but it is still a concern raised by students.
According to James Canonica, the college’s executive dean of enrollment and student services, plans have been made to build a parking garage in Lot 1, located outside Wilson Hall administrative building. Construction has not begun.
Dormitories and a meditation park have been discussed in conceptual meetings as other possible additions.
Savio said there should be more cafes or food shops around campus, and that they would be accessible to night students.
A snack, coffee, or even water can impact on students’ learning and keep them alert and focused.
“With little changes to major ones, CCC has made it easy for me to learn and advance in my studies,” Savio said.