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Rockland Community College is a two-year college in the State University of New York system, located in hamlet of Viola within the Village of Suffern from the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County, New York. The college began in 1959 in the former county almshouse. The college offers 48 programs, including Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in the arts and sciences, technology, and health professions. The current enrollment is about 6,300 full and part-time students. The main campus is in Suffern, New York, but instructions are also offered in Haverstraw and Spring Valley extensions.

The College has over 325 full-time and part-time faculty members, including several Fulbright Scholars[citation needed], SUNY Chancellor's Award winners, and published authors and artists. The faculty-student ratio is 18:1. Rockland has the third highest transfer rate in the SUNY system and has a Continuing Education programs which served about 3,500 each year.

September 1, 2009 – SUNY Rockland Community College Board of Trustees designated the building and grounds of Rockland Community College as a Smoke-Free Environment.

Rockland Community College celebrates the institution's Semicentennial, quinquagenary or Golden Anniversary from September 2009 through August 2010. Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher, Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY), was the featured speaker at the Rockland Community College 50th Anniversary Academic Convocation, held on Friday, September 25th, 2009.

Arlene W. Clinkscale, LHD – Chair of the Board of Trustees wrote ... Everyone has a chance to succeed here: the student who was unable to finish high school and needs to earn a GED, the top student who is challenged in the Honors Program and finds an affordable stepping stone to a prestigious four-year institution, or the adult who needs courses to advance in the workplace. Whatever the need, RCC is eager and available to work with individuals to help them solve the problem or achieve their goals.


Special Events

October 22–24 2009 – 1920 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, were displayed at the Eugene Levy Fieldhouse athletic facility. It would take approximately 10 football fields for the quilt to be displayed in its entirety.

Alma Mater

Nestled in the hills of Rockland County/Facing the Eastern sky/Rockland Community College/Stands loyal, firm and true./No matter where we roam/No matter where we be/We will always remember RCC/We will always remember RCC!


An institution called Rockland College, chartered by the state Board of Regents in 1878, existed for sixteen years in Nyack, New York.

Rockland Junior College, supported by federal funds disbursed through New York State, and sponsored by Nyack High School was established in 1932 as one of several depression-era two-year schools. New York University and Syracuse University accepted two years of credit from the college. Rockland Junior College shut down in 1935.

Rockland Community College came eighteen years later was organized to be an affordable, two-year college in location convenient for county residents; it was planned that it would raise taxes by only $4 a year. At the time, Rockland County, the state’s smallest in geographic area outside of New York City, was growing exponentially in population and in demand for a skilled, educated work force. Between 1956 and 1970, Rockland’s population was one of the fastest growing in the state, expected to double from 107,000 to 215,000 and the number of high school graduates was projected to rise from 700 to 2,463.

Large local industries like Avon Products in Suffern and Lederle Laboratories in Pearl River required more skilled workers, and the growth of hospitals such as Nyack Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern warranted the creation of a nursing program.

Some 69 percent of parents polled expressed interest in their children attending a community college in Rockland, and 183 high school juniors indicated a strong interest in and an ability to attend such an institution.



The new institution started life in county Almshouse, that was built in 1837 and used for destitute residents. It was set amid 26.5 acres (107,000 m2) of cabbage and tomato fields, apple orchards, and a pumpkin patch, in the eastern part of the Town of Ramapo, in the hamlet of Mechanicsville, afterwards renamed Viola. The frame edifice was replaced in 1883 by the first of three sections—today’s north wing—constructed of brick from the thriving Haverstraw brickyards. The south section came later, followed by the connecting west wing to form the current "U". The Almshouse was abandoned in 1957 for new quarters – Rockland County Infirmary and Home at Summit Park in Pomona. The Almshouse had been condemned by the state as unfit for instructional purposes. After an engineering study, the group concluded that the three-story building was salvageable and that with a few structural changes, it could be adapted for college.

Classes started without blackboards or chalk, textbooks or a true library. Instructions, written by crayon were taught on tacked up large sheets of wrapping paper. Teachers’ had to compete with the noise of the Almshouse renovations. By September 8, 1959 the first-floor renovations had progressed enough to allow faculty and staff to use large rooms at the front of the south wing, which had been used as the Almshouse director’s residence as administration offices. A small room further down the south corridor became the library and bookstore.

The renovations created than a dozen classrooms, including a former chapel that served as the first classroom, used for engineering classes; an assembly hall in the connector wing formerly used as a recreation area for Almshouse residents; a chemistry/biology lab in an old basement kitchen; and a cafeteria and lounge, also in the basement. Later came a secretarial/business machines room – equipped with only a handful of manual typewriters—on the second floor, and a physics lab. By the end of the first year, all three floors were in use.

Founding Faculty

  • Dale Hunt, biology and chemistry
  • Elaine Magid, French – the only foreign language offered at first
  • Elizabeth Phelps, librarian
  • Marjorie Markham and Marion Manning, business and secretarial sciences
  • Maureen Haberer, psychology
  • Michael Tulevech, English
  • Raymond Rossiter, social sciences
  • Robert Burghardt, mathematics, physics, and engineering drawing


Located on the crest of a sloping rise in a former farm community known as Mechanicsville, renamed Viola when a post office was established in 1882, the property included:

  • A wooden barn that was converted into a theater and assembly room in the second semester.
  • Fields leased to local farmers that yielded tomatoes and cabbage. The college later acquired 150 acres (0.6 km2) of farmland—100 to the south from the Hurschle Brothers Farm, and 50 to the west from the Springsteen Farm—for its current 175-acre (0.7 km2) campus. The barn was used for registration, physical education classes, sports team practices, large classes and final exams, dance classes, student-faculty talent shows, worship services, films, guest lecture series, concert series, even war protest rallies. It also served as the College Barn Theater. The Barn burned in January 1979; in 1983 it was replaced by the Cultural Arts Center.
  • A "potter’s field" cemetery, the burial grounds for many of the Almshouse residents. Shortly after the college was founded, the county deeded a tract of land in the northern section for establishing a veterans' cemetery, which remains today.
  • A small square building with barred windows that served as the first Rockland County jail, later the Ramapo town police headquarters, and still later a police radio station. It was converted into offices and men’s locker rooms for the physical education program in the second semester.
  • A narrow, tree-lined country lane known as Almshouse Road, which became an interior access road when the current College Road was built.
  • The three-story, colonial design Almshouse. In front of the Almshouse is a wooden gazebo that still stands.


The first year, 1959, three programs were in place for students transferring to four-year colleges after graduation: liberal arts and sciences, business administration, and business administration with accounting. Completion led to the awarding of the Associate in Arts degree.

139 students enrolled during the day: 87 men and 52 women, 119 full-time and 20 part-time. Students in the evening sessions outnumbered those in the day sessions for the first five years; 162 students—94 men, 68 women—enrolled in the evening. By 1963, the numbers had grown to 783 evening and 674 day.

Most students lived in Rockland. Several came from northern New Jersey, which had no community college at that time.


On June 11, 1961, the college’s first commencement exercises honored 39 graduates—22 men, 17 women—who had finished the journey begun by 139 full-time students two years before. In 1962 there were 60 graduates, and in 1963, 115, including the first 24 from the school’s nursing program.


  • Baseball games were played at the Village of Suffern ball field
  • Basketball – The School used court time in gymnasiums at Suffern, Haverstraw, and Spring Valley high schools and a few junior highs.
  • Bowling at Hi-Tor Lanes in West Haverstraw, NY.
  • Calisthenics, jogging, archery, soccer, and golf were held in the fields surrounding the small, peaked-roof building of the former Ramapo police station which housed the physical education office.
  • Fencing, gymnastics and varsity wrestling practice were held at the Barn.
  • Swimming and lifesaving were taught at the Bader’s Hotel outdoor pool in Spring Valley.
  • Deer Kill Day Camp in Suffern was rented to teach lifetime skill sports like tennis, handball, and one wall paddleball as well as softball and basketball.

The Eugene Levy athletic facility, known as the Fieldhouse was completed in 1972.

Facilities and transportation

  • 1959 – Almshouse – Daniel T Brucker Hall.
    Daniel T Brucker Hall – (Photo credit: Michael Bastianelli)
  • 1964 – Fall semester opening of the Academic I.
  • 1972 – Academic II.
  • 1972 – Physical Education Building.
  • 1972 – The Student Union.
  • 1972 – Utility Plant.
  • 1973 – Amphitheater.
  • 1973 – Library.
    • The library's collection contains over 120,000 books, more than 23,000 current periodical titles, and approximately 3,000 audio-visual items, all in diverse formats and the college's rapidly growing electronic resources cover all the disciplines offered at Rockland Community College.
  • 1974 – Eugene Levy Fieldhouse – Athletic facility. This 2-acre (8,100 m2), 90,000 sq ft (8,000 m2) indoor multi-purpose facility with synthetic athletic surface is considered the largest of its type in the northeast[citation needed].
    • Most Physical Education classes are held in the Fieldhouse that includes a regulation basketball court, four indoor tennis courts, volleyball courts, indoor track and other teaching areas within the arena. Also within the complex is four squash courts (that are used for racquetball), an Olympic sized pool, two gyms for aerobic activities, a weight room and an athletic training room.
    • The department also utilizes outdoor facilities that includes a lighted baseball stadium, six Outdoor Tennis Courts, two soccer fields anoval track and a softball field.
    • Bowling is held at three different bowlings alleys namely New City Bowling Lanes, Pearl River Lanes and Haverstraw Lanes. Golf is held at Spook Rock Golf Course.
    • The fieldhouse is also used as a community building for showcase trade shows, concerts, graduations, and sporting events.
  • 1983 – Cultural Arts Center. Site of the Inauguration of the first Rockland County Executive John T. Grant on January 1, 1986.
  • 1987 Spring Valley Extension Center opens
  • 1993 – Vehicle Maintenance Facility.
  • 2004 – Groundbreaking of 103,000 square feet (9,600 m2) Technology Center.
  • 2006 – Grand opening of new Haverstraw Extension Center
  • 2006 – Student Union renovated.
  • 2006 – Grand opening of new Technology Center – Rockland’s first certified "Green Building".
  • 2007 – Rockland County Department of Transportation increased and enhanced all bus service to the college.
  • 2008 – Theresa Morahan Simmons Center for Children and Families – Named in memory of Senator Thomas Morahan's daughter, a dedicated first-grade teacher who taught seven years at Richard P. Connor Elementary School in Suffern. Groundbreaking for new 7,000 square feet (700 m2) center took place on July 27th, 2008.
  • 2009 – Grand Opening Theresa Morahan Simmons Center for Children and Families – June 14th 2009 – Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. In attendance; The Morahan family, representatives from the five Rockland townships, school administrators, staff members, volunteers and most important Children and Families.

Degrees, certificates, program and course offered

Associate of Arts (AA)

Associate of Science (AS)

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Certificates (C)

Information Assurance Course Validation

Rockland Community College became first New York Community College to Receive Information Assurance Course Validation from the Committee on National Security Systems during the June 2008 CNSS Awards Ceremony held at the 12th Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education.

International students

More than 250 international students are enrolled at Rockland Community College yearly.

Rockland Community College is ranked number one in the country among two-year institutions for sending students on international study programs.

Language Courses

SUNY Rockland Community College offers nine “living” languages which have been approved by the State University of New York (SUNY) – the most of any community college in New York State, which meet the Foreign Language General Education requirement and are mandatory for students seeking a bachelor’s degree from a SUNY school. These include;

  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Spanish

CASS program

The Cooperative Association of States for Scholarships (CASS), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Georgetown University's Center for Intercultural Education (CIED), was initiated in response to the educational policy recommendations contained in the Report of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America.

The CASS program provides a means of reaching and uplifting socioeconomically disadvantaged but talented people from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

The CASS program strives for all participants to be responsible, educated, multicultural, professional and committed. CASS scholars are chosen for their motivation, talent, capacity for leadership and potential to be a positive role model in their home communities. In addition to providing training, CASS is designed to give the students the possibility of interacting and understanding American culture, its democratic system, geography, food and lifestyle.

While in the United States, CASS scholars will give back to their host communities by performing a minimum of 160 hours of approved volunteer service in the community where they live.

Rockland Community College started this new program in 2008 by hosting CASS scholars studying small and medium business entrepreneurship.

B.A. programs

  • SUNY Cobleskill at SUNY Rockland – This 3 + 1 articulation program will enable students to earn a bachelor’s degree in most concentrations by studying three years, and in some cases, four years, on campus at SUNY Rockland.

B.S. programs

M.A. programs

Students can obtain their master's in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education at SUNY Rockland through a program co-sponsored by the The College of New Rochelle (CNR).

Honors programs

The Samuel Draper Mentored/Talented Students and Management Development programs are nationally acclaimed, rigorous academic programs for liberal arts and business students seeking to transfer to premier colleges. Graduates transfer to such colleges as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Fordham University, and Smith College. The program was awarded a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant from the United States Department of Education to serve as a model for community college honors programs throughout the country.

Cambridge University Study Abroad Program

Great Court of King's College.

Students must be at least 18 years of age and meet the requirement of a minimum 3.0 GPA and two faculty recommendations when classes begin at Cambridge University in July or August. Students can be from any college but must apply through the RCC Sam Draper M/TS Honors Program Office in Spring to be eligible.

Samuel Draper July 21, 1925 – October 22, 2009

Dr. Cliff L. Wood, president of Rockland Community College stated in a memo to his staff and students that ...Sam Draper had a significant impact on Rockland Community College and the thousands of students with whom he worked. The College will always be influenced by the legacy of Sam and the Sam Draper Mentor/Talented Student Honors Program, which was his life and his passion.[citation needed]

PACT program

The PACT (Preparing Adults for Career in Teaching) program is a teacher preparation program that focus on recruitment, academic preparation, retention, transfer and entry into teaching careers. There are transfer agreements with several partner colleges as well as other local colleges.

Pre-Employment Police Basic Course

The course provides the opportunity to begin preparation for a career as a local police officer prior to being hired by a law enforcement agency. A Civil service exam which students will be required to pass in order to be hired by a law enforcement agency, will be given upon completion of the course work at RCC. A candidate from the civil service list who has completed the coursework is more likely to be chosen by an agency, as he or she will not need to attend a twenty-three week academy.

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

The CETL program provides a variety of outstanding professional programs and services to faculty and staff as well as one of America's premier psychologists, Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, as scholar-in-residence.

Homeland Security and Domestic Preparedness

Our Consortium in Homeland Security and Domestic Preparedness is a collaboration with Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan Community Colleges.

Children's programs

Academy for Gifted and Talented Children

The Academy for Gifted and Talented Children, teaches topics which range from art to encryption that attempt to make learning fun and challenging. The program is for children in grades 2 through 5 who participate in gifted educational programs at their schools; eligibility is currently based on the student's standardized test scores.

Full-day preschool to the community

The Campus Fun & Learn, which runs from the first day after Labor Day until the last week of June, is a full-day or part-time preschool program open to the community for children between the ages of three and five. The program includes art, music, language activities, and more, and helps prepare children for their future school experiences, as well as providing an opportunity for RCC students majoring in Education, Psychology and other programs gain experience and understanding in working with young children. RCC students who enroll their children qualify for scholarships and subsidies for child care tuition.

The Theresa Morahan Simmons Center for Children and Families groundbreaking ceremony took place on July 27th, 2008 and the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony took place on June 14th 2009.

The center's three original goals include:

  • Providing a model high quality Early Childhood education/childcare project for children – infants through 12 years old.
  • Providing a support services to busy working parents, many of whom are single parents, working and attending college to further their careers, and raise the economic level of their families.
  • Providing an Early Childhood Lab School/Observation Training Site for future teachers.

Kid's summer camp

The Physical Education Department at Rockland Community College currently has three different summer camps: Sports Academy, Baseball Academy and Kids' College.

  • Sports Academy offers instructional sports camp for girls and boys from grades 2 – 9 that offers the opportunity to learn, play and improve the sports they love while building camaraderie and enjoying the best summer of their life.
  • Baseball Academy teaches the fundamentals necessary to become a better baseball player while providing an atmosphere of sportsmanship and competitive spirit.
  • Kids' College
    • Performing Arts Camp – children are immersed into acting, singing and dancing culminating in a performance in the Cultural Arts Theater at the end of each session.
    • Kids College Art Institute offers comprehensive instructions on how to improve basic drawing, sculpting and painting skills.
    • Computer Camp hone skills and enrichment.

Seniors adult programs

Senior Adult Audits – Seniors over the age of 60 are eligible to take credit courses free of charge on a space available basis. The seniors are responsible for program fees, are required to meet pre-requisites and cannot enroll in contract courses.

Institute for Senior Education (I.S.E.) – The College's Institute for Senior Education (ISE) offers courses during the College's regular semesters at modest prices. These informal groups meet once a week and stress independent study within a curriculum adjusted to the needs and interests of the group's members. All ISE courses are open to everyone over 50 years old.

Awards and achievements

  • Regional Commuter Choice Outstanding Achievement Award for its free evening shuttle bus service launched in the Fall of 2006 between the main campus and the College extension centers in Spring Valley and Haverstraw recognizing the College for taking this significant step to help reduce traffic congestion and to improve the air quality in Rockland County.
  • Tappan Zee Award (Project of the Year – The College’s Technology Center) from the American Society of Civil Engineers for setting the mark for excellence in the civil engineering profession.
  • SUNY Administration Outstanding Student Affairs Program Award for the efforts on behalf of Student Health and Wellness by the college Prevention Resource Center.
  • The National League of Nursing Accreditation Commission re-accredited the Nursing Program for a full eight year term.
  • Dan Masterson, a resident of Pearl River was named Rockland’s first poet laureate on February 24th, 2009. He has taught English at Rockland Community College for the past 45 years. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, along with the Bullis, Borestone, and Fels national poetry prizes, as well as, the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the author of four published books, On Earth as It Is, Those Who Trespass, All Things, Seen and Unseen and World Without End and his work has appeared in various publications including Esquire, The New Yorker and The London Magazine.
  • Dr. Cliff L. Wood, President of Rockland Community College, was presented the 2009 Northeast Regional Chief Executive Officer Award from the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) during the ACCT Annual Community College Leadership Congress held in in San Francisco, CA, on October 7–10 2009.


  • February 2007 – RCC Fighting Hawks Men's Bowling Team won their first Region XV Championship in school history. RCC made up three of the six All-Region members.
  • February 2009 – RCC Fighting Hawks Men's Basketball Team beat Sullivan County Community College Generals 81 – 77 to win the Region XV DIII Men's Championship.

Gary Onderdonk Rockland Veterans Cemetery

  • Korean War Monument – large granite rock at the Gary Onderdonk Rockland Veterans Cemetery on Rockland Community College's campus with a plaque bearing the names of all 27 Rocklanders killed in action during the Korean War, with the inscription: "They gave their today for your tomorrow."


External links


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