Syracuse's Columbia College could close without Air Force help

Oct 27, 2011

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the Air Force to let Columbia College build a new facility at Hancock Air Base in Syracuse.  If it doesn't, the college that serves many military students, will shut down.

Schumer says the problem is the heavy security on the base that has increased as it's gained classified missions.  This extra security doesn't allow many students to get to classrooms that are in the middle of the base. 

What the college wants to do is build another facility, and it's asking for approval from the Air Force to do this.

"If the lease is approved, Columbia itself will invest $2 million in an 11,000 square foot classroom facility on a part of the base that is not secured as tightly so that all students can have access," said Schumer.

Columbia College, which has been operating for 37 years, has seen its enrollment drop from about 1,000 students to just 40. David Brundage, a veteran who is about 2 years into a business degree, says if Columbia shuts down, an alternative would be to take online classes. He says that would not be a good fit for him.

"I've done online classes in the past," said Brundage. "That's just not the kind of student I am. It's more difficult. Your teachers don't know who you are. I was committing myself to coming here two or three nights a week and doing night school."

Schumer says it shouldn't be too difficult to get the Air Force to approve the new construction, calling it a paperwork issue.