Creating programs designed to enhance quality of life issues requires reliable data on how residents perceive conditions in their area.
The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College has been providing this critical information for 20 years. Its annual surveys for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties highlight how circumstances have improved over time and where more work still needs to be done.
Community leaders joined JCC officials and former college staff members Oct. 24 in celebrating the center’s 20th anniversary. John W. Deans, president emeritus of JCC, spoke of what inspired the creation of the center during his tenure. According to an Oct. 25news release issued by JCC, he referenced a speech he delivered in 1999 while receiving the Citizenship Award at the annual Israel A. Shapiro dinner:
“As our community approached the 21st century, I asked those assembled a question: ‘Would we not profit from a center where issues important to our community’s future could be identified, where expertise could be assembled, where data could be gathered and analyzed and potential solutions explored?’ My comments concluded with a pledge that the college would work to find such a venture a home and with an invitation to all interested individuals and organizations to help make a Center for Community Studies a reality.”
The center has played an essential role in the north country for the past two decades. The annual surveys present residents’ views on topic such as the quality of education, the environment, health care, access to housing, county government, cultural/entertainment opportunities, local economy, availability of good jobs and real estate taxes.
“Since 1999, the Center for Community Studies has completed hundreds of research surveys for the community and for private companies. The center ties professional knowledge from full-time faculty members to students learning statistics and mathematics to clients in the region who need data to solve real-world problems. We are the only local research entity and we produce a lot of high caliber information. Jefferson Community College is the only SUNY community college to have such a research center,” according to the group’s website. “The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College was established in October 1999 and has continuously engaged in community-building and research activities since its formation that simultaneously benefit the community, the students, the faculty and the college – the ‘Win-Win-Win-Win Situation.’ The center conducts research that will benefit the local population and engages in activities that reflect its commitment to enhancing the quality of life of the area. … Upon request, the center professional staff has historically provided assistance to community groups by facilitating a variety of speaker series, panels, trainings, and focus groups.”
During the anniversary dinner, JCC President Ty A. Stone credited the visionaries who foresaw this new link between the college and the broader region.
“The center is here — the center exists — due to the foresight and initiative of President Emeritus Dr. John Deans, Professor Emeritus Dr. Richard Halpin and the many others who saw the value of creating a hub for community-building activities and conducting research on topics of importance to the north country community,” she said, according to the news release.
The Center for Community Studies at JCC has served Northern New York well in its dedication to trustworthy data and commitment to engaging the public. We commend all those who helped found the organization and those who continue to carry on its exceptional work.