The Inauguration of
James M. Sunser, Ed. D
as President

Jim Sunser

Origins of the College

Genesee Community College was founded as the result of a citizen referendum held in Genesee County in 1965. The State University of New York granted a charter to the new college in 1966 and the first student body - 378 full-time students - began classes in the fall of 1967.

The College's temporary campus was a vacated department store building on West Main Street Road in Batavia. During the first year of operation, the student body began many of the traditions that continue to this day. Student leadership and service, embodied in the College's Student Government, quickly became its hallmarks and it was during this first year that the college colors - blue and gold - were adopted and the athletic symbol, the Cougar, was selected by a vote of the student body. Over the years, the College has seen several iterations of its logo, and the one being used today (see website) embodies the spirit of "beyond expectations," an expression collectively shared by the institution's faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members that reflects the College's long history, current mission as well as its long-term goals.

The College expanded rapidly in size and scope of service and quickly outgrew its West Main Street facilities. In 1972, the College moved its operation to the current R. Stephen Hawley Drive campus. Significant continued enrollment increases over the years have led to the addition of several new buildings at the Batavia campus. The first of the additions came in April 1991 when the 40,000 square foot Genesee Center for the Arts was opened with great excitement - considering that an arts center had been part of the vision of the original campus construction and had to be postponed due to financial limitations. In 2000, a second addition to the campus was opened, the Conable Technology Building, providing a "high tech" facility for business training and educating students in the latest technologies. In 2006, the Wolcott J. Humphrey III Student Union was opened to provide much-needed student space. In the fall of 2010, GCC partnered with the Genesee County Economic Development Center by leasing the entire second floor of the GCEDC's new Med Tech Center for the College's Nursing program. And in 2011, the College added designed exhibit space with the Rosalie "Roz" Steiner Art Gallery.

Over the years, Genesee Community College has responded quickly and creatively to the varied educational needs of its four-county service area. The College's growth has persisted throughout its history. Today, Genesee Community College serves more than 7,000 full- and part-time students, enrolled in 67 different academic programs. The College has become a vibrant center for continuing and professional education, business training, and the arts, with more than 12,000 students enrolled in noncredit programs in these fields last year alone. Today, courses and other college programs are offered not only at the Batavia campus, but at six campus centers located in Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties. There are now nearly 24,000 alumni who got their educational or professional start at Genesee, many of whom are now leaders in their respective fields.

The College's early trustees, faculty, and staff were optimistic about the potential of the institution they founded. Many believed that if their plans were fully achieved, the College could one day serve as many as 1,000 students. Yet, 46 years ago, even these optimistic, forward-thinking individuals did not imagine the phenomenal growth of the College, the depth and breadth of the programs that would follow, or the personal and professional success of the College's graduates.

As the College community celebrates the installation of its fourth President, James M. Sunser, Ed.D., we look forward to continuing the institution's success in fulfilling the academic and professional needs of our citizens. Under his leadership and direction, we anticipate rising to meet those needs and responsibilities "beyond expectation."