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MVCC formally opens new Mandia Family Learning Commons

By Eric Reinhardt


UTICA, N.Y. — Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) on Thursday formally opened the Mandia Family Learning Commons in the information-technology building on the Utica campus.

MVCC, in a news release, described the commons as a “recently renovated space dedicated to helping students succeed.”

MVCC used a Title III grant of more than $2 million over five years, along with a “generous” donation from Stephen Mandia, an MVCC alumnus, to make the move. The college didn’t disclose the amount of Mandia’s gift.

A Title III grant helps eligible schools to “become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions,” according to the website of the U.S. Department of Education.

With the funding, MVCC implemented its “Pathway to Graduation” project and relocated the previous 2,830-square-foot Learning Center into a new 8,700-square-foot Learning Commons, the school said. 

Through its membership in the Achieving the Dream coalition, MVCC learned that “colleges with Learning Commons achieve a higher quality of education for students and a higher rate of graduation,” the school explained in its news release.

Achieving the Dream is a “non-governmental reform movement for student success. Together with our network of higher-ed institutions, coaches and advisors, state policy teams, investors and partners, we are helping more than 4 million community-college students have a better economic opportunity and achieve their dreams,” per its website.

Achieving the Dream, Inc. is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland.

About the Commons
The Mandia Family Learning Commons will co-locate the functions of tutoring, study groups, library resources, computer labs, technical assistance, an iTeach learning lab for faculty and staff, and seminar areas. 

The facility will also include five “completion coach” offices, which will guide students in academics, and personal struggles such as transportation issues, housing problems, emergency loans, and daycare.

The renovation work included workstations, group-study rooms with smart technology, math and writing labs equipped with updated computers, and tutor and faculty offices. 

It will also include what MVCC is referring to as a “soft space” area for conversation and for students to share academic information and ideas on study and coping methods.

The effort will also include a second Learning Commons location on MVCC’s Rome campus in the northern wing of the Plumley Complex as the renovations are completed. 

It will also house a testing center, math and writing labs, tutoring stations, and will share the computer lab with the library.

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