More than 300 students, faculty and staff members, and community residents gathered at the Batavia Campus under sunny skies today as college trustees broke ground for the College's new 10,500 square foot student union.
The new building will be located northeast of the existing Batavia Campus structures. It will contain multi-purpose rooms for student clubs and organizations, student government and student life offices, a small cafÃ© area, and highly flexible multi-purpose space that can be used for informal gatherings, large group social and educational activities, demonstrations, and exhibits. The College expects the building to be open in time for the Spring 2006 semester. If the spring and summer weather remains dry and sunny, the College may be able to open the building as early as Thanksgiving.
The plan for a student union came about as the result of the College's Facilities Master Plan, which was prepared several years ago by the Glens Falls architectural firm of Joy, McCoola and Zilch. The Plan indicated that Genesee's enrollment had risen rapidly in recent years, and that the College had a critical shortage of non-classroom student gathering space.
Last fall, the College learned that it was the 8th fastest-growing mid-sized community college in the United States.
The new building will cost $1.82 million. It is being financed with approximately $900,000 in funding from the State University of New Construction Fund and $400,000 from the Genesee County Legislature. The Genesee Community College Foundation has agreed to raise the funds necessary to cover the balance of the cost.
In addition to providing space for student activities, the new student union will help the College remain competitive with other colleges and universities. Most colleges and universities have student unions. Recent economic impact studies have indicated that Genesee Community College brings more than $58 million in economic benefits to local communities and, as enrollment rises, this economic impact increases. "The new student union will add a wonderful new dimension to our campus, but it helps protect and strengthen our local economy as well," President Stuart Steiner said.
Joy, McCoola and Zilch is serving as architect for the new building. The firm also designed the Conable Technology Building, which won a prestigious architectural award four years ago for design innovation. The Ciminelli Company is serving as construction consultant. Allied Builders is handling site work and general construction.
Anne M. Garlock, Chair of the College's Board of Trustees, said that the student union will help make the Batavia Campus complete. "In 1965, I walked door-to-door in Batavia and campaigned for the referendum that established this College," Mrs. Garlock recalled. "And now, forty years later, we're making our college campus complete and fully alive. For the first time in Genesee Community College's history, we're going to have space dedicated to student activities. Education happens inside the classroom and outside the classroom, and it's these out-of-classroom activities that will be possible once this student union opens."