Proposed Inner Harbor Campus

Onondaga Community College has announced its interest in a proposed development for the Syracuse area’s Inner Harbor. Plans for a new satellite campus to deliver high-demand programs in the City of Syracuse and northern suburbs have been in place since the mid-1990’s.

“With enrollment that has grown by more than 65 percent over the past decade to nearly 13,000 students, Onondaga Community College must identify new venues to conveniently serve the needs of adult students, residents and employers of the City of Syracuse and the northern suburbs, the fastest-growing demographic in our community,” said Onondaga Community College President Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D.

For nearly 15 years, Onondaga Community College has pursued options beyond its main campus on Onondaga Hill. These options have included the exploration of shared facilities with other SUNY campuses such as SUNY Oswego in the mid-1990s, to the Seneca Mall site leased in 1999, to various pre-existing sites in the northern suburbs and downtown area. 

On the basis of criteria established by a market study, more than a dozen potential sites for a satellite campus have been reviewed to date. All have presented extensive renovation costs, as well as parking challenges. “Any decision about a standalone site must directly contribute to 2011-16 enrollment goals, including the potential for new program development to meet the needs of adult learners and refugee populations, access for residents of the City of Syracuse and the northern suburbs of Onondaga County, and the availability of high-demand, industry relevant programs,” said Dr. Sydow. 

A letter of interest for inclusion in the COR Development proposal to New York State was submitted by the President and the College’s Board Chair, Meg O'Connell, last year. Steve Aiello, President of COR Development, serves as vice chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees made the decision to express interest in this proposed development because of COR Development’s well-recognized and proven track record for top quality projects that meet the needs of the community. Prior to proceeding, the project was carefully considered – without Mr. Aiello present – according to the same stringent criteria that guided previous site reviews,” said Margaret “Meg” O’Connell, Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. 

“As an alumnus and member of the College’s Board of Trustees, I am proud of my commitment to expand opportunities for students to benefit from the programs and services of the College, just as I did as a graduate of OCC nearly three decades ago. Onondaga Community College has never wavered from its mission of educational access and preparation for meaningful employment in the Central New York community. The proposed Inner Harbor development, with Onondaga Community College as a partner, would serve to further this educational mission in service to local citizens and employers,” said Aiello. 

Specific operating costs to the College, if the Inner Harbor project were approved and mutually agreeable lease terms were reached between the College and COR Development, have not been discussed. The College remains open to program options at other locations, continuing to employ the same stringent criteria based on market research.