Classes are well underway at William Paterson University’s new academic building, an 80,000-square-foot structure that’s aptly named University Hall, with 16 general use classrooms that will serve at least 4,000 students every semester.
Of the building’s $40 million budget, $30 million was provided for using funds from the Building Our Future Bond Act of 2012.
It was an investment championed by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno at a Jan. 13 ribbon-cutting for the building — and just one piece of the investment the state has made in its higher education institutions as a result of the $750 million bond.
“The taxpayers of New Jersey should be proud of their investment in William Paterson University. After all, we’re not just celebrating a new building, although it is a beautiful space and a fantastic achievement,” Guadagno said. “This project also ensures that William Paterson University students will be armed with the best possible education to go out into the world and change it for the better.”
To be celebrating the opening of the building, Guadagno said, gives the state’s taxpayers confidence in its investment.
“It debunks the myth that we can’t get anything done in Trenton,” she said. “It gives everybody faith, again, in their government; it gives us all faith that our government can work together when there’s a reason to work together, and I can’t think of a better reason than for the future of the state of New Jersey.
“Who would have thought that a bond we passed in 2012 would result in a building like the one we’re standing in right here? That’s why we get up in the morning and fight the good fight.”
Alexandra Ovits, a senior majoring in public health at William Paterson University, spoke at the ribbon-cutting for the school’s new University Hall on the impact the new building will have on the students and faculty.
“Academic life in our new and extraordinary building will inspire and benefit both students and faculty as we learn, study and conduct research,” she said.
As actions speak louder than words, Ovits even took time from her winter break to speak at the event.
She also noted that the building was finished five months ahead of schedule, a benefit for her and her classmates who would have otherwise graduated before being able to utilize the new facility.
William Paterson University President Kathleen Waldron told the crowd that the new building is “a significant accomplishment.”
“(It is) designed to serve all our faculty and students,” she said. “It is a major addition to our campus as we work to upgrade our main instructional buildings and to provide our faculty and 11,000 students with state-of-art facilities focused on teaching and research.”
Partly focused on expanding the school’s nursing program, Waldron said the building is illustrative of the university’s push toward “experiential learning.” This includes simulated clinical and research projects conducted in conjunction with faculty.
“(University Hall) features specialized classrooms and clinical spaces for several of our health sciences programs, including nursing, communication disorder and public health,” she said. “We are proud to reinforce the strategic role that William Paterson University plays in New Jersey as an important provider of health sciences education.”
The university may go beyond simply providing health sciences education by filling a need for skilled workers created by the state’s growing health care industry, Guadagno said.
“We all know, in New Jersey, health care is going to be the top provider of jobs in the 21st century,” she said. “In the next five years, in New Jersey alone, we need 20,000 nurses.”
State Sen. Thomas Kean Jr. (R-Union), the Senate Republican leader, also spoke at the event. He reinforced the government’s commitment to investing in higher education.
“When (Senate President Stephen Sweeney) and I were discussing this issue along with the lieutenant governor, Gov. Chris Christie and every member of the Legislature that’s here on a bipartisan basis were intimately involved in understanding the importance of the opportunity of job creation,” he said. “This makes sure that generations of New Jerseyans have a great place to be educated, great opportunities and great jobs going forward.”
Taking stock of the building and the physical manifestation of the Bond Act, he added, “We love it when a plan comes together, but the plan came together, the right thing was done and the voters approved this.”
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By the numbers
In 2012, New Jersey taxpayers voted to approve the Building Our Future Bond Act, a bond issue that passed with 62.8 percent of the electorate voting in favor of the action. The act allowed the state government to authorize $750 million in bonds to help the state’s public and private higher education institutions invest in new facilities across their campuses.
The state has already seen projects funded from the act come to fruition, including Montclair State University’s new $66 million Feliciano School of Business building and Rutgers University’s New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health, which received $36 million from the state.
Both buildings, among many others that received funds as a result of the bond act, celebrated ribbon-cuttings in fall 2015.
Below is a collection of the state’s 10 largest investments that are scheduled for completion in either 2016 or 2017:
$82 million in bond funds
Rutgers University (New Brunswick)
Chemistry and chemical biology building
Includes: New laboratory, teaching and collaboration space allowing faculty to expand and accelerate groundbreaking research in drug design, alternative energy, biomaterials, nanotechnology and molecular engineering.
Status: Slated to open fall 2016
$46.9 million in bond funds
Rutgers University (Camden)
Includes: A 119,740-square-foot facility with case study lecture halls, “discovery labs,” undergraduate and graduate lounges, teaching labs for biology, chemistry and physics, and a specialized nursing space with clinical skills labs, patient simulation labs, a standardized patient health assessment and advanced AV technology.
Status: Slated to open spring 2017
$46 million in bond funds
College of Engineering facility expansion
Includes: A 90,500-square-foot facility with classrooms, lab space, faculty offices, study areas, a STEM center for outreach and precollege-age students, and a high-performance computer cluster.
Status: Slated this month
$40.3 million in bond funds
Rohrer College of Business building
Includes: A 110,000-square-foot facility with lecture halls, auditorium, classrooms, seminar rooms, distance learning facilities, computer labs, study areas, financial trading room and space to house the South Jersey Business Center with executive training rooms.
Status: Slated to open December 2016
$40 million in bond funds
The College of New Jersey
Includes: An 89,000-square-foot building for science, technology, engineering, plus the schools of engineering, nursing health and exercise science, and school of science. It includes classroom and research space, labs for biomedical, electrical, mechanical, civil engineering, nursing, computer science, math and physical, natural and health sciences.
Status: Slated for completion August 2017
$35.7 million in bond funds
North Avenue multipurpose academic building
Includes: A 125,000-square foot, multipurpose academic building with 29 classrooms. More than 25 percent of new academic space will be for financial services and global supply chain management. Another 25 percent will be used for computer science and information technology.
Status: Slated for completion spring 2016
$30.7 million in bond funds
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Transforming NJIT’s Central King Building: A hub for STEM education and research
Includes: Auditorium upgrades, three floors of academic and research space for Biological Sciences Education and Research Complex and centers for advising pre-professional mentoring and innovation and discovery.
Status: Ongoing renovations to an existing building
$21.5 million in bond funds
Science building (addition)
Includes: Labs for teaching and research, a
vivarium, a greenhouse, computer labs and faculty offices.
Status: Slated for completion fall 2017
$13.5 million in bond funds
Additional classroom building
Includes: A 60,000-square-foot building with 24 classrooms, 20 offices and teaching spaces for the schools of business, education, social and behavioral sciences, arts and humanities, general studies, health sciences, natural sciences and mathematics.
Status: Slated for completion fall 2017
$12.7 million in bond funds
Thomas Edison State University
Nursing Education Center
Includes: A 34,702-square-foot building with faculty space, a patient simulation lab, an auditorium and lecture halls, a space for testing and assessment as well as a continuing education unit.
Status: Slated for completion in 2016
– Andrew Sheldon