Dr. Barbara Finkelstein, the president of York County Community College, was reading the Aug. 18 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education when she made quite the discovery.
The national magazine had named YCCC in its annual almanac as one of the 20 fastest growing two-year, associate degree-granting colleges in the United States.
“All of a sudden, I saw our name there, and I thought, ‘whoa,’” Finkelstein said. “I was just delighted we got that recognition.”
YCCC announced the news on its website. According to the announcement, data reported annually to the National Center for Educational Services show that enrollment at the Wells-based college more than doubled between the years 2005 and 2015.
And those numbers are continuing to climb: The college recently announced enrollment climbed an additional 4 percent in the fall of 2016.
Finkelstein attributed the rise in YCCC’s ranking to at least two factors. The first is that a portion of the period in which the data was collected reflects a time when the country experienced an economic downturn, an event which, historically, prompts people to consider community colleges for professional retraining or degrees. The second is that YCCC was a relatively new college at the time and attracted students as it continued to add new programs and grow.
And YCCC continues to grow, according to Finkelstein. The college recently added programs in gerontology and hospitality and tourism management. YCCC also has a new veterinary technician program — one of the only ones of its kind in Maine — that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
This year, YCCC is launching a new American Studies program, in which students will be able to explore U.S. history and culture, Finkelstein said. The program has been developed as a result of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
YCCC’s enrollment and its number of programs are not the only examples of the institution’s growth. On Sept. 27, there will be a ribbon-cutting at its new facility, the Pratt & Whitney Building, on its main campus at 112 College Drive. The ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
The new building is 18,000 square feet and offers general-purpose classrooms, a lecture hall with 143 seats, a developmental mathematics lab, a conference room, and, according to Finkelstein, “lots of great meeting space for students.”
“Students started taking classes in that building last week,” Finkelstein said Friday, Sept. 15.
The new building has even hosted its first public event: Sen. Susan Collins was there on Sept. 8 for the college’s latest offering in its ongoing “Eggs & Issues” series.
YCCC also intends to increase its reach beyond its Wells campus. In September of 2016, the college relocated and expanded its precision machining program to 60 Community Drive in the industrial complex in South Sanford. And there’s room at the site for more: The college is planning to offer a program in “additive manufacturing,” or 3D printing, there.
“We’re hoping to have that curriculum developed this year and add it next year,” Finkelstein said.
With all these developments — increased enrollment, added programs, expansion into Sanford, a new building on the Wells campus — it is no wonder YCCC caught a national magazine’s attention.
“We knew we had grown, but to see it in print was something special,” Finkelstein said.