The national craft brewing scene is ever growing. So too is the local micro-brewery moment, with breweries opening in all corners of the city. Now Erie Community College is adding New York State’s first one-year certificate program in Brewing Science and Service. The program is a direct reflection of the regional brewing movement, with more young people looking towards the industry as a career choice.
“Our tireless faculty and staff have met with business community members and determined an opportunity in a growing local industry,” said ECC President Jack Quinn. “Local brewers have expressed a need for qualified personnel to help grow their offerings across the region, so we plan to work with those in this field to equip Brewing Science and Service students with not only what they’ll need to become successful, but by providing the same type of professionally crafted education common throughout all ECC courses and programs.”
The course will start up in the fall of 2015, being directed by faculty members Donald Spasiano and Eric Paner (Business and Public Service Division). The 31-credit program will be made possible by connecting the students to Buffalo’s existing breweries, including Big Ditch, Community Beer Works and Flying Bison.
Classes offered are Intro to Brewing, Filtration and Finishing, and Brewing Microbiology. I was hoping that the classes would be held at ECC’s urban campus, which is in close proximity to the breweries that the students will be affiliated with, but that appears to not be the case. Instead, the program will be held on the North Campus.
Aside from the location of the classes, which is where I assume the Business and Public Service Division arm is located, there is great upside to this news. Not only will ‘beerology’ students clamor to take the course, giving the college a bump in the “cool factor” department, the local brewing industry will ultimately have plenty of young brewers on hand when looking to hire. Aside from breweries, additional beer industry employers range from distributors and grocery stores, to beverage centers and the hospitality industry.
All-in-all it’s a good day in Buffalo where brewing (and distilling) is concerned. It’s good to see that ECC is analyzing the regional business landscape and then putting together a plan to get a program of this nature on the books. It’s these types of programs that are going to boost enrollment at ECC, not newfangled buildings that contribute to the sprawl of the North Campus.
Recently Erie Country Legislator Patrick Burke made public the following press release concerning the STEM building slated to be built at the North Campus:
Erie County Legislator Patrick B. Burke was the lone dissenting voice in a vote of the Community Enrichment Committee that will hire Kideney Architects to provide architecture and engineering services for the construction of the STEM Building to expand ECC North Campus.
“The administration of ECC continues to say that this one building on ECC North Campus will resolve the issues of chargebacks and declining enrollment. However, the environmental study done for the project says that it will not impact enrollment,” said Burke.
The ECC SEQR Supplemental Report says, on page 18, “No significant increase in the day-to-day student population on campus is anticipated,” and further on page 30, “Project [STEM building] is not expected to be an enrollment-generator.”
When ECC Officials mentioned that construction of the STEM building on North Campus was important to further developing nearby student housing off campus, Burke responded, “Our policies should not be affected by the speculative interests of a private developer. We’re losing students for a variety of reasons, the most important is that other schools are investing in better programs. This is a $30 million dollar Hail Mary pass for a college in crisis.”
This $1.9 million dollar hire of the architecture firm Kideney Architects comes amidst a concerning announcement last week that ECC enrollment has declined 550 students in the same year that tuition was raised $300 per student. ECC Officials speaking before the Community Enrichment Committee added that enrollment figures for the Spring 2015 show a further decline, and that they will likely have to raise tuition again a possible $200 per student.
Supporters of the expansion of North Campus have continuously raised fears that State money for the building would be lost if the building was not built at North Campus, however, State level officials in touch with this office say appropriating the money to a new location is a routine legislative item easily accomplished.