SARANAC LAKE — Dr. John Ganio, a presidential candidate for North Country Community College, spoke at length about adapting colleges to fill local needs.

He is the third of four finalists to meet with community in a forum setting.

His views centered on adapting courses to fit the needs of area businesses and the local economy and creating better jobs for all people, including those who might have given up on college long ago.

“We have to recast our definition of student as everyone we encounter in this community for their whole lives,” Ganio said to about a dozen staff members, faculty and county lawmakers at Tuesday’s forum.

“We need to prepare ourselves to be the center of discussion.”


Currently the acting dean of academic affairs at Ulster County Community College, Ganio outlined a measure of growth at NCCC looking outside the typical pool of local high-school students.

“If we are going to continue to grow, we have to look at other audiences. One thing I would like to see us do is partner with businesses to be lifelong trainers.”

That outreach could include non-typical college courses given in Saturday sessions, for example, he said, “like a mix of training and coursework” that form a bridge from high school to college.

“The strength of a community college system is in our ability to be nimble and in our ability to respond to a need in the public immediately. We have the opportunity to be successful if we follow that path.”

Building North Country Community College to respond quickly and with flexibility to emerging needs for trained professionals will include jobs that don’t even exist today, he said.

And flexibility includes looking at life experience as criteria for college enrollment.

“I think we need to take advantage of that and talk to our adult population.”

Better jobs mean higher salaries and less costs overall to taxpayers for programs like health care, jails, law enforcement and welfare. And a vibrant community college is a key part of the equation, Ganio said.

“We have as our mission access.”


Franklin County Legislator Tim Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) asked Ganio how he would present the $13.5 million Phase 1 NCCC capital campaign program to county lawmakers.

Even facing tough economic times, the college has adopted a conceptual five-year, $56 million campus renovation project.

“How are you going to convince them NCCC is worth it?”

Ganio said he would demonstrate how the plan is not spendthrift and how it relates to local economic stability.

Funding college isn’t the same as bonding for bridges, roads or infrastructure.

“Better jobs and higher salaries are good for community,” Ganio said. “If you give us money, you are going to see a return.”

College professors and staff asked Ganio what he would do in the first 100 days as president.

The candidate said communication is key.

At his job, he said, he created a “Council of Professors” to meet and openly discuss issues.

“They are the holders of the institutional culture. I prefer to try to identify opportunity, provide resources and focus.”

When asked why he is attracted to the position at NCCC, Ganio said he grew up on a dairy farm not far from here.

“My preference is for a rural area. It’s a college that has made some great strides, and there are many opportunities out there. I can make things happen here.”

Ganio is scheduled the Malone campus from 3 to 4 p.m. today and will be at the Ticonderoga campus from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m. Thursday in the Ti board room.

Ganio previously served as assistant provost for the State University of New York system administration and was also dean of academic affairs at Herkimer County Community College.

He holds a PhD. in higher educational administration from the University at Albany; an education specialist degree in community college education, a master’s in English from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s in English from SUNY Oneonta.

E-mail Kim Smith Dedam at:

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