Part 3: Civic and Community Engagement at Fisher
Strong local and regional economies are built on a foundation of strong communities. The quality of life that local communities offer, the quality of local schools and other community institutions, and the local structure of opportunity all profoundly affect a region’s ability to attract, develop and retain highly-skilled workers, and attract investment.
- Student Engagement in Community Service
- Strengthening Community Institutions and Organizations
- Developing the Region's Education and Health Care Professionals
Communities with deep reserves of social capital are also far more resilient, and better equipped to respond effectively to the forces of economic change, than those where communal bonds have eroded. Since its founding, St. John Fisher College has been committed to serving and strengthening Rochester-area communities. Below we describe some of the multiple ways in which Fisher manifests its commitment to the communities it serves.
Strengthening Community Institutions and Organizations
Local institutions and organizations – schools, churches, civic groups, health and social service agencies, and others – play a central role in meeting community needs and addressing common problems; and on a deeper level, they provide the reserves of social capital that help hold communities together.
Through its Center for Community Engagement, founded in 2006, St. John Fisher College provides programs and services aimed at strengthening non-profit institutions and organizations, with a particular emphasis on management and board leadership in small- to medium-sized organizations. The Center's programs include:
- A five-course, non-credit certificate in non-profit management, covering topics such as budgeting, financial management, human resources, and resource development. Between January 2008 and January 2020, 272 unique individuals representing 111 organizations registered for a Nonprofit Management Certificate Program course.
- Workshops and seminars aimed at helping board chairs and other board members understand their roles and responsibilities, and how they can improve their overall performance in areas such as governance, financial oversight, fund-raising, and inclusiveness. Since 2006 the Board Leadership Seminar program has registered 220 unique individuals representing 109 organizations, and 858 unique individuals representing 326 organizations have registered for the Nonprofit Leadership Workshops.
- The Center also produces a series of reports and other publications on governance and management of non-profits.
Family-controlled businesses are a critical source of economic vitality in Rochester, in the region and beyond. Fisher serves as a resource for these businesses through the School of Business' Family Business Initiative. In the spring of 2018, the School of Business conducted a Family Business Survey to help better understand the types of programming and resources that could help address the unique challenges and opportunities of family businesses in the Rochester area. With the help of the results of this survey, the School of Business has developed a variety of workshops, conferences, webinars, peer groups, and other events on topics such as transition planning, family risk analysis, and more. The School of Business also offers the Next Generation Leadership Institute (NextGen), a 12-month program designed to prepare family business owners for active and responsible leadership roles. The program, which results in a Fisher Executive Education Certificate, focuses on a variety of topics including financial and strategy basics, legal responsibilities, family dynamics, business governance, and responsible stewardship principles.
Developing the Region's Education and Health Care Professionals
Through its Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, Wegmans School of Nursing, and Wegmans School of Pharmacy, Fisher helps meet the region's (and the state's) continuing need for highly skilled, well-prepared education and health care professionals. During the fall of 2018, a total of 1,799 undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in these schools, of whom 1,755 (97.6 percent of the three schools' total enrollment) were residents of New York, including 824 (45.8 percent of the three schools' total enrollment) residents of Monroe County and 277 (15.4 percent) residents of elsewhere in the Rochester area.
Upon graduation, the majority of these students stay in the Rochester area and elsewhere in New York working in the education and health care fields. Table 11 estimates the number of Fisher alumni working in the Rochester area and elsewhere in New York as teachers and other education professionals, nurses, counselors, and pharmacists.
Table 11: Fisher alumni working as education and health care professionals in New York state, as of summer 2019
|Rochester area||Other New York||Total NYS|
|Teachers/other school professionals||123||41||164|
Along with its alumni, Fisher contributes to the region's education and health care workforce through the work done by education, nursing, mental health counseling and pharmacy students in the course of their training – through student teaching, nursing students' clinical rotations, counseling internships, pharmacy experience and more. For example:
- Through clinical preceptorships and internships, Fisher nursing students work under the guidance of nurse practitioners to provide primary and acute care at various health care systems, community-based agencies, and private practices in the Rochester area and elsewhere in western/central New York.
- All Fisher undergraduate and graduate students pursuing initial certification as a teacher are required to complete 150 hours of field experience and 14 weeks of student teaching. These experiences are completed in a variety of diverse settings, including the eight Rochester area-schools with which Fisher had a Professional Development School (PDS) partnership with during the 2018-19 academic year.
The hours of practical experience required for Fisher students earning degrees in these fields are shown below in Table 12.
Table 12: Hours of practical experience required in selected Fisher degree programs
|Degree||Hours of practical experience required|
|B.S. in Education||150|
|M.S. in Educational Leadership||680|
|B.S. in Nursing||840|
|M.S. in Nursing (CNS & NP)||500-600|
|M.S. in Mental Health Counseling||600|
Improving primary care in the Finger Lakes region
In the fall of 2017, the Wegmans School of Nursing launched an immersive clinical training program aimed at preparing nurse practitioner students for clinical practice in rural and/or medically underserved areas. Funded by a two-year, $1.2 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Advanced Nursing Education Workforce (ANEW) Program, the program provides tuition and traineeship support for 25 students enrolled in Fisher's graduate nurse practitioner programs and three students enrolled in the School's DNP program.
The program seeks to increase the skill level of the primary care workforce, meeting the needs of underserved and at-risk populations in the Finger Lakes Region.
During the 2018-19 academic year (as Table 13 shows), undergraduate and graduate education, nursing, counseling and pharmacy students at Fisher worked a combined total of 706,050 hours – in schools, hospitals, physician's offices, community health and mental health programs, pharmacies and in other settings. While some of this work was done elsewhere in New York, in other states, or in other countries, approximately 96 percent of the total hours reported (about 674,530 hours) represent work done in the Rochester area.
Table 13: Total hours of practical experience performed by Fisher education, nursing, counseling and pharmacy students, 2018-19 academic year
|School/program||Hours of practical experience reported|
|Mental Health Counseling||43,200|
If we apply the Independent Sector's estimate of the value of volunteer time to the hours worked by these students, their services to the community can be valued at $21.3 million.
Preparing math and science students to teach in rural school districts
In partnership with Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC), St. John Fisher College announced the launch of its new Noyce INSPIRE Scholarship Program in the fall of 2019. The program – which is supported by a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Scholarship Program – aims to address the need for talented K-12 science and mathematics teachers in high-needs rural districts.
Fisher will work with FLCC to recruit 20 undergraduates from rural, high-need areas (with a particular emphasis on recruiting transfer students from community colleges) who will earn undergraduate degrees in a STEM field while also majoring in inclusive adolescent education. Noyce INSPIRE Scholars will receive tuition assistance in both their junior and senior years, as well as receive post-graduate mentoring during their first year of teaching. The program also includes trauma sensitivity training, in order to help prepare the scholars to have a deeper understanding of the social, emotional, physical, and socioeconomic lives their students have outside of the classroom.
Noyce INSPIRE Scholars' field experiences and student teaching placements will take place throughout four districts located in the rural Finger Lakes region. The inaugural cohort of scholars will enroll at Fisher in the fall of 2020.
Fisher also contributes to the ongoing development of the region’s education and health care professionals through a variety of programs and partnerships. For example:
- Through the pharmacy residency program at Fisher, graduates have the opportunity to gain real-world experience serving as members of health care teams in a variety of clinical settings. The 12-month residencies take place at several locations throughout the Rochester area – including the Rochester Regional Health System, the University of Rochester Medical Center, Wegmans, and the Wegmans School of Pharmacy – as well as at Upstate Medical University and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York.
- In 2016, the Wegmans School of Nursing formalized an academic practice partnership with Rochester Regional Health (RRH) that provides a tuition discount for RRH employees enrolled in graduate nursing programs at Fisher.
- The Wegmans School of Pharmacy’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs provide educational and professional development opportunities for pharmacists, technicians, and other health care professionals. During the 2018-19 academic year, the Wegmans School of Pharmacy offered a total of 12 CPE programs and events, with enrollment totaling 271.
- Through a $30,000 grant from the McGowan Charitable Fund, three faculty members from the School of Education piloted a four-part training workshop series on “creating a trauma-sensitive educational environment.” The classroom management training program was created for teachers at Longridge Elementary School in the Greece Central School District during the 2016-17 academic year. Approximately 30 teachers, counselors, and social workers from the school participated in the workshops.