Nicholas Souza, News/Online Editor
On Feb. 4, Senator Joseph Griffo and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi announced that Utica College has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the state that will be used to make improvements to the athletic facilities on campus.
The Higher Education Capital Matching Grants Program (HECap), which awards grants to private colleges and universities, matches $1 for every $3 raised or spent by the institution. In UC’s case, the money that the college spent on the new Todd and Jen Hutton Sports and Recreation Center was matched by the state. While this money will be used to make improvements to UC athletic facilities, it is also a way to make an impact on the region as a whole.
According to The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York, HECap is a way of connecting with “natural partners in state efforts to generate economic development, foster urban renewal, and provide academic support.” This statement is echoed in Senator Griffo’s statement in a recent UC news release.
“Utica College has shown outstanding leadership on behalf of its students by lowering tuition and expanding its educational programs,” Griffo said. “So I am pleased that this grant will help the campus become an even more valuable presence in our region’s revitalization.”
Built in the 1960s, the Clark Athletic Center is in dire need of renovations. While the Athletic Center has undergone numerous expansions, features including: the pool, offices, bleachers, and locker rooms have seen very little updates.
“The grant, it’s earmarked specifically for the Dome and for the Clark Athletic Center renovation,” Director of Physical Education and Athletics David Fontaine said. “So the dome is complete using money that we spent. I’m not sure of all the specifics details; I know that we’ll learn exactly where we’re able to spend that money. The grant and the state will specify but we’re hoping we’ll be able to make the improvement we need here.”
The Clark Athletic Center has outgrown the size of the physical education and athletic opportunities that are offered at UC. Since the 1960s, UC has gone from offering 11 or fewer sports to the currently offered 25 sports. According to Fontaine, the current infrastructure of the facility is not able to effectively accommodate this many sports, coaches, athletes, and the UC community. A renovation to this facility increases in importance due to it housing one of UC’s newest academic programs, Wellness and Adventure.
The proposal to receive this grant has been in the making for over a year. Originally, the state announced that the grant winners would be announced last March. However, the announcement was pushed back.
The creation of the dome, the tuition reset and not the planned renovations of athletic facilities due to this grant are going to be huge draw for students to choose UC.
“Having the dome, having the Cynkus Family Center, having the economic crime and justice studies building, and having any updates and renovations we have here certainly attracts students,” Fontaine said. “Today’s student in general, student athlete or not, want to see where their money is going. The tuition reset that will take place in the fall makes Utica College very affordable and now with renovations, it’s making it attractive. People are going to shop for institutions. Mom and dad, or whoever’s financing the student’s education wants to know where their money is going, so I think that we will be adding value.”
Featured Image: The Clark Athletic Center is due to be one of the facilities to be renovated. Photo by Nicholas Souza.