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NCCC hosts ‘Higher Education’ summit

Joe Keegan, president of North Country Community College, speaks during Higher Education at a Crossroads, a summit hosted by the college on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Provided photo)

SARANAC LAKE — Local leaders, stakeholders and supporters of North Country Community College outlined ways to enhance the value of the college to students and communities and discussed how to better confront the challenges and opportunities facing the region during a day-long summit held at the college’s Saranac Lake campus.

More than 60 people, including North Country’s education and workforce partners, key local employers, elected officials, donors, faculty and staff participated in the June 4 event, titled “Higher Education at a Crossroads: Blazing a New Path Forward for North Country Community College.”

The keynote presentation was delivered by John Merrow, president of Learning Matters and a retired PBS Newshour correspondent and NPR reporter, who spoke about the value of community colleges and their importance in growing educated, knowledgeable citizens. His presentation was followed by a series of panel discussions that focused on strengthening the relationship between the college and its partners to benefit North Country residents. The event also featured a presentation on regional workforce data by state Labor Market Analyst Konstanin Sikhaou as well as a discussion of North Country’s current degree, certificate and short-term program offerings.

“The time, energy, and ideas that were extended to the college during the event were invaluable,” NCCC President Joe Keegan said in a press release. “We had high hopes for the day, and what unfolded exceeded our expectations. The participation and engagement demonstrated to all in attendance a truth we know — it takes a community for a community college to be successful.”

Among the key takeaways from the summit, Keegan explained, were that access to higher education in our region continues to matter and that investments in the college in the form of time, energy and financial resources are ultimately investments in students, families and communities. He said the event also demonstrated that partnerships are vital to the college’s ability to carry out its mission and serve students, families and communities. The college was also reminded that by working together with our partners, we can help solve our communities’ challenges.

John Merrow, president of Learning Matters and a retired PBS Newshour correspondent and NPR reporter, talks about the value of community colleges at a summit at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Provided photo)

“We left the gathering with a renewed spirit, the confirmation that the college is on a good course, and the knowledge that there is still much more work to be done,” Keegan said.

The event was organized and hosted by the college, its board of trustees, and the North Country Community College Foundation.

Ross Whaley, former president of SUNY ESF and former chair of the state Adirondack Park Agency, speaks during a panel discussion at North Country Community College on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Also on the panel, from left, are Cali Brooks of the Adirondack Foundation, Minerva Supervisor Steve McNally and Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson. (Provided photo)

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