As Dowling College’s long-term future remains uncertain, representatives of dozens of colleges gathered Thursday at Suffolk County Community College’s Selden campus to counsel displaced students who are considering how and where to continue their education.
Scott Cahill, 18, of North Massapequa, who was enrolled in Dowling’s sports management program, said he hopes to transfer. There is too much uncertainty about the Oakdale school’s prospects, he said, not to consider other options.
“It’s not worth it,” said Cahill, who had completed one year of his four-year program at Dowling.
Suffolk County Community College officials said 51 colleges and universities from across the region were represented at the Transfer Fair, held in the Brookhaven Gymnasium on the Ammerman campus. About 75 students attended, college officials confirmed.
The event, designed specifically to aid Dowling students, was organized after the debt-ridden school’s initial announcement that it planned to close permanently on June 3.
The president and trustees since have said that Dowling will remain open as they try to seal an affiliation deal with Global University Systems, an education investment firm based in the United Kingdom.
Both summer sessions at Dowling remain canceled, however, and it is unclear if the college will manage to continue operations — and how its profile as a liberal arts school may change.
James Schultz, 22, of Ridge, was in his fourth year of study and planned to graduate with a degree in aerospace systems. He said he needs only 15 credits — the equivalent of one semester’s course load — to finish.
He said he heard about Dowling’s closure announcement through The Dowling College LOSER Club, a student Facebook page for Dowling students who are gaming fans.
Schultz said he would come back to the college if it remains open, although he expressed dismay at the overall situation, the future of his professors and a lack of information from school officials. All of Dowling’s 453 employees were told in a May 31 email from President Albert Inserra and the board’s trustees that June 1 was their last day of work.
“My four years were great,” he said, adding that it was Dowling’s “friendly classes and friendly professors that drew me in.”
Still, Schultz, who wants to work as an U.S. Air Force and power plant mechanic, is devising a backup plan while he awaits word on Dowling’s fate.
At the Transfer Fair, he was looking at Farmingdale State College in East Farmingdale and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, in East Elmhurst, Queens, among others.
Jessica Ventura, 25, a senior at Dowling, said she has only three credits left to complete her degree in Early Childhood and Teaching English as a Second Language.
While she called the situation “stressful,” she said she would consider going back to Dowling if the school remains open, adding, “It’s a good school.”
Marguerite Lane, dean of admissions for Molloy College in Rockville Centre, said she and others at her school had encountered frustration from Dowling students and their parents as Molloy tried to match those students with programs that fit their degree programs.
“We understood that their anger was never directed at us,” she said, “and they always walked away so grateful that they had someone to guide them through the process.”
Lane said she anticipates Dowling students will continue to seek enrollment at other colleges. Molloy has received so many calls that staff members offered to cancel their vacation plans to help with the influx, she said, adding, “It was all-hands-on-deck.”
Christopher Adams, vice president of student affairs for SCCC, said the school has been flooded with calls from Dowling students seeking help in transferring.
Though the student turnout at Thursday’s event was smaller than he had expected, Adams said, “We took a pledge to help the residents of Suffolk County, and I think we did just that today. Even if you help one student, it’s still enough to be a success.”