Ben Mehic, Managing News Editor
The Utica College campus could be welcoming another building next to the academic quad – a $3 million project centered around the Construction Management program.
The building, consisting of brick and glass – much like the other buildings on campus – will feature state of the art classrooms and an auditorium that will be equipped with the latest technology, according to UC President Laura Casamento.
After discussing the project for three years with the Construction Management Advisory Counsel – a group of alums that are from the program, many of whom own construction companies – UC is looking to secure funding for the building. Currently, the advisory counsel has raised $1.5 million.
The institution will apply for two major grants – one through the consolidated funding application and another with the national economic development group – to make up the difference. The counsel will raise 80 percent of the funds, leaving the rest to the institution. The grants could be worth up to $650,000, according to Casamento.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll obtain the grants,” Casamento said. “Any time you have a project where you have 80 percent of the funds in hand – people like to fund those kinds of projects. They don’t like to fund things that are up in the air. But of those grants don’t come through, we’ll find another avenue and other foundations. It’s rare for Utica College to only worry about 20 percent of a project cost.”
Projects such as the construction management building typically result in the accretion of debt, which is something UC will certainly avoid, Casamento said. Right now, there is no timeframe for the construction of the building.
“If you have a project like this that will benefit the college, the sooner you can build it the better,” Casamento said. “But we’re not going to build it until we have all the funds in hand. If it’s up an ready for the fall of 2018, then great. If it’s ready for fall of 2019, because that’s how the fundraising falls, then that’s how it will be. It will all depend on the fundraising.”
Mohawk Valley leaders, such as Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, have put a special emphasis on revitalizing the area through hands-on projects – something UC will take advantage of, Casamento said.
“The angle we’ll take, which is very true, is that as the Mohawk Valley continues to grow, there’s going to be a lot of construction,” Casamento said. “There’s going to be a shortage of construction managers. This will be another way to tie the college into the community need.”
As the campus continues to grow, UC might have an opportunity to label itself as a university. Under the Carnegie classification, UC is already a university, but certain previsions limit its ability to call itself as such. That could change if regulations are altered, according to Casamento. However, the addition of the construction management building will not impact the institution’s status.
Other projects, such as possible opportunities to expand housing on campus, have also been talked about, according to Casamento.
The recent additions, such as the Todd & Jen Hutton Sports & Recreation Center, the Welcome Center and the Brvenik Center for Business located in downtown Utica have left former students wondering how the institution has underwent such a makeover in just a few years.
Casamento believes expanding the campus to meet its needs is important, but will only do so if it won’t put stress on the institution financially.
“My main priority is that we’re prudent with our financial resources,” Casamento said. “Students want that. They want us to be prudent with every dollar they bring to the school. The entire campus has really rallied around that. I think we’ve seen some really great success in terms of prioritization of resources. That type of work that we’re laying the ground for will really strengthen our financial foundation for the future and then we can make some decisions that we might’ve not been able to make before.”
Director of the Construction Management Program David Dubbelde is pleased that UC is committed to expanding its programs and providing stability for the long haul. The improved infrastructure will provide what’s necessary to keep the curriculum up to date with the changing landscape, he said.
“Prospective students and parents want to know their investment in a college education is going to pay a return,” Dubbelde said. “Thus, it is incumbent upon college programs to provide the best education possible – and that starts with state of the art facilities and a cutting edge curriculum.”