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Upstate Medical University Signs on as Higher Ed Center Partner, Brings Four Healthcare Degree Programs to Region

Pictured: Dr. David R. Smith, MD, president of SUNY Upstate Medical University and Dr. Carole A. McCoy, president of Jefferson Community College.

On Thursday, January 28, representatives from Jefferson Community College (JCC) and the State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University formally signed a memorandum of understanding, making SUNY Upstate the third official partner institution in Jefferson Community College’s Higher Education Center initiative.

The Higher Education Center initiative aims to provide increased access to bachelor’s and master’s degrees and professional certifications for residents of the North Country. Higher Education Center partners will provide collaborative educational offerings that will benefit the region’s workforce and economic development. The partnership with Upstate Medical University will help meet workforce needs in the healthcare field as well as provide several in-demand educational opportunities for current healthcare professionals in the region.

“Dr. Smith and Upstate Medical University have long been supporters of the higher education center concept,” said Carole A. McCoy, president of Jefferson Community College. “They recognized the critical shortage of nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals in the Jefferson County area and the need for advanced education programs for those currently working in the field. Dr. Smith has been a leader and proponent of this initiative since day one. I’m so pleased to formalize an agreement that has been in the works and in fact, has already been implemented, in Watertown.”

Initially, Upstate will offer four programs on JCC’s campus in Watertown: a master of science degree in Family Health Nurse Practitioner, a master of science degree in Family Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, a bachelor of science degree in Respiratory Therapy, and a bachelor of science degree in Medical Technology. Classes for both master’s degree programs began in the Fall 2009 semester and enrollment continues for Summer and Fall 2010 start dates. Applications for Fall 2010 will be accepted until April 1. There are currently seven students enrolled between the two programs. Designed for the working adult, both programs are offered as part-time study with two courses each semester and approximately four years to degree completion.

Student recruitment has begun for both the respiratory therapy and medical technology degree programs with an estimated start date for both in Fall 2010 and 2011 semesters. Pre-requisite coursework is available at JCC for those who do not possess sufficient transfer credit. Both bachelors programs are full-time study with degree completion possible in two years.

The partnership between Jefferson and Upstate Medical University will have a direct impact on the North County medical community’s ability to serve the needs of the region. A comprehensive needs assessment undertaken by the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization found that the single greatest limiting factor in the delivery of quality healthcare is a critical shortage of health care professionals and a lack of educational pathways to support local workers in health occupations.

“The link between our two campuses is not new,” said Upstate President David R. Smith. “For years, Jefferson students have been among our very best recruits. This agreement allows us to expand that relationship in ways that help the region and support the healthcare needs of the next generation. We are very proud to ‘co-brand’ our campuses and look forward to a long and productive relationship with Jefferson Community College.”

Upstate continues to work with many partners in the Watertown, Fort Drum, and North Country region to establish a full branch campus for its College of Medicine. While a medical school branch campus would oversee students in the region’s healthcare facilities, the Higher Education Center will provide a home for student and administrative support resources.

SUNY Upstate Medical University joins Paul Smith’s College and SUNY Potsdam as official Higher Education Center partners with office and teaching space on the Jefferson campus, providing, along with Jefferson, classes and integrated academic services for adult learners in the community. Partners in the Higher Education Center initiative will be located in the Extended Learning Center (previously referred to as the modular building) on campus as an interim location before a permanent facility is built. Long-range strategic and facilities plans include the construction of a more comprehensive and community-oriented Higher Education Center on campus.

The Extended Learning Center is currently undergoing renovations to accommodate Higher Education Center partner needs and will officially open in February 2010. The Small Business Development Center and Jefferson’s college outreach office remain open during the renovations. Plans for a grand opening of the Extended Learning Center are under way, with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

For additional information about programs offered in Watertown by SUNY Upstate Medical University, email, visit, or call 800-736-2171. Prospective students can also learn more about the Watertown programs at an open house on March 27 from 8:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Weiskoten Hall on Upstate’s campus in Syracuse.

To learn more about the Jefferson Community College Higher Education Center, please contact Craig D. Johnson, vice president for community engagement at Jefferson, 315-786-6566.

Founded in 1834, SUNY Upstate is the only academic medical university in Central New York and is comprised of four colleges and a university hospital. Over 1,300 students are enrolled in the College of Medicine, College of Health Professions, College of Nursing, or College of Graduate Studies and studying to become doctors, biomedical scientists, advanced degree nurses, and allied healthcare professionals. SUNY Upstate’s internationally-recognized faculty is committed to providing students a hands-on education and individual attention. As the region’s premier biomedical research center, SUNY Upstate’s faculty/scientists continuously search for new cures and treatments to dozens of diseases and disabling conditions. Visit for more information.

One of 30 community colleges supervised by the State University of New York, Jefferson Community College is the community’s leading resource for leading better lives, offering 30+ associate degrees for career preparation or for transfer to a 4-year college; certificate programs; online learning; lifelong learning through personal enrichment workshops; business and industry training; and cultural enrichment opportunities for the entire Watertown/Fort Drum region. Learn more at