The academic year 2003–4 marked the 50th anniversary of Cayuga Community College. That anniversary demonstrated a community's success in offering its residents higher education within reach of their homes, families and jobs.
On April 9, 1953, the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a community college in Auburn under the sponsorship of the Auburn City School District. Auburn Community College opened its doors the following September in the former James Street Elementary School. It was the first community college developed entirely after the establishment of SUNY. When Cayuga County assumed sponsorship for the College in July 1975, the name was officially changed to Cayuga County Community College.
Sixty-nine students formed the first freshman class. They joined acting president Charles G. Hetherington, Ph.D., and the charter faculty in ushering in a new era of higher education for Central New York.
To accommodate a rising student population, the College moved in 1959 to the current Auburn campus on Franklin Street. Later construction added a cluster of facilities around the original classroom building, now known as the main building: the library (1964), the technology building (1970), the bookstore (1971), Spartan Hall (1980), and the nature center (1983).
A $6.5 million capital project for construction, renovation and remodeling — including the "link," bridging the main and technology buildings — from 1989 to 1991 carried Cayuga into the 1990s.
In 1994, with the opening of the Fulton Campus, the College expanded its operations to better serve Oswego County residents.
The most recent major capital project, totaling $10.3 million, was undertaken in 2000. Approximately half that amount provided for further upgrades to the Auburn campus for energy efficiency, online technology, classroom renovations, parking capacity, and space usage, while $5.1 million funded the construction of the new Regional Economic Center.
Opened in 2003, this building houses classrooms for Cayuga students; the offices of several agencies providing employment services to area residents; the new home of the college's NASA-sponsored Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology; and the college's Business and Industry Center, a workforce training complex. A partnership of federal, state and local governments as well as private contributors made the landmark Regional Economic Center possible.
Over the years, Dr. Hetherington's presidency was succeeded by those of Albert T. Skinner, Ph.D. (1958–77); John H. Anthony, Ed.D. (1977–80); Helena B. Howe, J.D. (1980–86); Lawrence H. Poole, Ph.D. (1986–96); and Dennis Golladay, Ph.D. (1996–2006). Daniel Larson, D.M.A., Cayuga's seventh president, joined the College in August 2007.
The flexibility to respond to the community's changing needs is a hallmark of higher education at Cayuga. Not only recent high school graduates, but also working adults, busy parents, and retirees can take courses and pursue an associate degree by studying at Cayuga days, evenings, weekends, or online.
Having delivered a half century of service to area residents as well as students from elsewhere in New York State, the United States, and around the globe, the College has earned a reputation for helping people reach their educational goals through small classes, a nurturing academic environment, and affordable tuition. Cayuga's trustees, faculty and staff remain committed to providing outstanding academic programs and dynamic services, as an essential and evolving higher education resource for the community.