Established in 1961 as a unit of the State University of New York, Monroe Community College was a vision shared by a handful of industrious and determined business people, community leaders and government officials.
Nationwide, a scattering of community colleges had begun to take root. For people who had been shut out of higher education, a publicly-funded two-year institution in their own community offered exciting new opportunities for personal and professional growth.
The establishment of the College was led by local surgeon Dr. Samuel J. Stabins, who recognized the need to prepare students to work in local hospitals and health care facilities. The first Board of Trustees comprised Rochester’s finest professionals in medicine, business, education and law and was led by Dr. Stabins, as chair.
During the early months of 1962, Dr. Leroy Good was hired by the board as MCC’s founding president. Dr. Good had successfully established community colleges in three other states and would make his mark in Rochester as well.
The College’s first home in Rochester’s former East High School at 410 Alexander Street had been condemned by the city as a fire hazard. That did not deter MCC founders who immediately went to work making the necessary renovations. On Sept. 19, 1962, the doors of MCC’s first campus swung open and welcomed 720 students. Two years later, 82 students received associate degrees at the College’s first commencement. The following year, in June 1965, MCC became the first college in the nation to receive accreditation within three years of its founding.
Since its founding, MCC has proudly served the education and training needs of more than half a million people and has become a catalyst for workforce and economic development. Carrying on the vision of its founders 60 years ago and inspiring the way forward under the current leadership of the College’s sixth president, Dr. DeAnna R. Burt-Nanna, MCC continues evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of its students and the local community.
Educational and Training Sites throughout Greater Rochester
In 1968, the College responded to increasing enrollment by moving to a new campus on East Henrietta Road in Brighton. Over the years, MCC became the fastest-growing community college in the state, increasing its enrollment during the 1980s by more than 41 percent.
In 1991, the College announced plans for a second campus to serve a steady influx of students. Temporary space was acquired in downtown Rochester and became home to MCC’s Damon City Campus in 1992, named in honor of longtime Trustee E. Kent Damon. The College would establish a permanent Downtown Campus in 2017 at 321 State Street in the city’s High Falls District, educating students in law, criminal justice, human services and k-12 teaching.
To meet the needs of students balancing college and family, the MCC Child Care Center opened in May 1991. Certified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the center cares for children who are eight weeks to five years old; during the summer, programs serve school-age children up to 11 years old.
In 1997, MCC opened the Applied Technologies Center, a 53,000-square-foot facility in which students train in the latest methods in precision machining; automotive technology; heating, ventilation and air conditioning/refrigeration; and solar thermal technology to prepare for in-demand occupations.
Five years later (2002), in a unique collaboration with Monroe County and the City of Rochester, MCC opened the Monroe County Public Safety Training Facility on Scottsville Road. Here, in partnership with public safety departments throughout the county, MCC provides training for police, fire and emergency medical services personnel in a state-of-the-art emergency-training complex.
On July 16, 2003, MCC dedicated the Alice Holloway Young Commons—among the nation’s first residence halls on a community college campus—honoring the legacy of Dr. Alice Holloway Young, founding trustee, long-serving board chair and chair emerita. While providing opportunities to enrich co-curricular activities among the student body, the residence halls offer housing options for local, regional and international students. The College opened an additional residential building, Canal Hall, to the Commons in fall 2007.
In December 2003, responding to the tragedy of Sept. 11th, the College launched its Homeland Security Training Institute to address the educational needs of those across the region faced with responding to natural and intentional disasters.
Three years later, MCC’s Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute opened to provide education, training and resource development in the agriculture industry.
Within the past several years, MCC dedicated the Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Center for Excellence in Nursing and the PAC Center fitness and recreational facility, as well as the Downtown Campus on the corner of Morrie Silver Way and State Street to meet the evolving educational needs of people throughout our region.
Through MCC’s Virtual Campus, dedicated professors specially trained in online instruction became a critical asset to students who began or completed their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic. MCC is one of the top online providers in the SUNY system.
Most recently in early 2022, the Finger Lakes Workforce Development (FWD) Center within the Downtown Campus opened to prepare current and future workers for in-demand, technology-oriented careers focused on emerging smart technologies and Industry 4.0 skills. Operated in partnership with regional workforce organizations, industry associations and educational institutions, the regional FWD Center offers short-term and accelerated training and education in developing the next generation of skilled technicians.
Inspiring the Way Forward
Through the years, MCC has continually grown in degree programs, educational initiatives and facilities to meet the community’s diverse needs. Today, the College has served more than a half-million people. The College offers classes in extension sites, serves seventh- through 12th -graders in precollegiate programs, and incorporates community activism – service-learning – into its courses. Embedded in its history, MCC embraces diversity and inclusion, offering activities and programs to enhance the personal and professional development of faculty, staff and students.
Through access to affordable academic programs, MCC leads excellence and innovation in higher education, inspires diverse students to transform their lives and communities, drives regional economic development, and builds global engagement and understanding.
MCC is committed to building human capital. “The spirit of an institution is developed first by those who come to teach,” says Dr. Alice H. Young, a founding trustee and MCC trustee chair emerita. “Their dedication to the betterment of this institution and to this community has given MCC its national reputation for innovation. More important, it is the faculty’s genuine concern for the students that has served as the mortar holding the College together. The students must always come first, for they are MCC’s lifeblood.”