Transportation is key to LIC college hub


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If and when, the $50 million planned revitalization of Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue begins construction, it may help usher in a new academic hub for college students in the city’s largest borough.
By some measures, LIC is already a hub - solely by virtue of hosting gargantuan LaGuardia Community College, which enrolls 50,000 students annually.
But ask any of the hundred-odd LaGuardia students milling in front of the campus whether another college is nearby, or if the rumors of another City of University New York (CUNY) school moving into the neighborhood are true, and you’re likely to draw quizzical stares.
In fact, though, another college is nearby - The Queens Center of Briarcliffe College, a private for-profit school, occupies the fifth floor of an office building next to the LaGuardia campus and enrolls fewer than 50 students annually.
According to Eric Seda, site manager of the Queens Center, the original impetus for opening the small extension site was the realization that nearly 25 percent of the students attending Briarcliffe’s other locations in Patchogue and Bethpage on Long Island were commuting from Queens or surrounding boroughs.
Although officials at Briarcliffe College have no illusions about being as big as LaGuardia, they recently received approval from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to expand the curriculum at the Queens Center and offer business courses, in addition to the ones in criminal justice currently offered. As a result, Briarcliffe will also be allowed to enroll additional students as part of NYSED approval.
Jason Gonzales, 21, and Sabrina Youmins, 25, recently enrolled in the associate degree program in criminal justice at Briarcliffe in the hopes of pursuing long-term careers in law enforcement. They both pointed to small class sizes and interactive teaching - past criminal justice classes have visited Riker’s Island and other local prisons for first hand experience - as reasons for their deepening enthusiasm for the subject.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall commented in her State of the Borough address last month about the prestigious CUNY School of Law - joining LaGuardia Community College in LIC.
“Because of the new energy and transit accessibility, I am pleased to tell you that at my urging, CUNY Law School is moving forward on a plan to move to Long Island City,” Marshall told the audience.
Commenting on the possibility of the law school moving in the near future, Michelle Anderson, dean of the law school, wrote, “The Law School is delighted that The Board of Trustees of the City University has approved a Master Plan which includes a new facility for the law school. At this point, any comments on a particular space or facility are premature, as we are in engaged in the phase of garnering public support for this project.”