Union Graduate College broke ground on a new $8 million campus at the corner of Nott Terrace and Liberty Street, in downtown Schenectady.
Elected officials, including NYS Senator Hugh Farley, NYS Assemblyman George Amedore Hon. Susan Savage, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature, and Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton will join business leaders, students, faculty and staff at the future site of the three-story, 24,000-square foot building – currently a vacant lot located about a block from the Union College campus.
“As a separate and independent educational institution, it is fitting and proper for Union Graduate College to have a home of its own. And it is time,” Thomas Hitchcock, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Union Graduate College, said. “This building will better serve our students and faculty, meet the expanding needs of our growing enrollment, and contribute importantly to the momentum of revitalization in Schenectady. It will also be a showcase of environmentally-responsible construction.”
Union Graduate College offers master’s degrees in management, engineering, education and bioethics.
The Graduate Center, expected to open in Fall of 2009, will provide “one-stop” shopping for student services such as admissions, registration, and financial aid. It will also include computer labs; instructional/conference space; student meeting rooms and faculty offices.
The campus’ high performance, sustainable design includes features that will conserve energy and reduce its carbon footprint:
· High-efficiencylighting:A combination of cutting-edge fluorescent technology and state of the art LED fixtures will significantly reduce the building's electricity needs;
· Geothermal heating/cooling system: This underground system, also known as ground source heat pumps, has been named the most energy efficient and environmentally sensitive of all space conditioning systems by the EPA,reducing energy demands up to 70 percent;
· Storm water management: Groundwater recharge swales and rain gardens will remove pollutants and storm water runoff;
· Reintroduction of American Elms: The campus will be shaded byAmerican Elm trees. Historically, these trees were used to line city streets, but were wiped out by disease. The campus will include a new, disease-resistant type of American Elm.
· High performance/sustainable building materials: Energy Star roofing, energy efficient insulating air barrier wall construction and high performance glass in combination withsolar shading will reduce energy consumption on the building’s exterior. Renewable, locally manufactured materials, with low emissions and high recycled content, will also be used.
In addition, the roof is being designed as an “open-air laboratory” where solar panels will be used for engineering courses on emerging energy technology.
“This is a great day for Schenectady,” said United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, an early supporter of the project, who secured a $198,000 Federal Budget Appropriation for the school. “Union Graduate College could have located anywhere in the region, but instead they remained here. That is really a testament to the turn around that the city and county have experienced in the past few years.”
Schumer’s budget appropriation also made Union eligible for an additional $180,000 through the Higher Education Capital Matching Grants Program. Commitments have been secured for more than half of the $8 million building costs, through both public and private sources.
New York State Senator Hugh Farley secured a grant of $1 million, to fund the building.
“The Union Graduate College is a remarkable phenomenon – an outstanding graduate institution which stands on its own, yet shares roots and resources with one of the nation's most progressive
undergraduate colleges,” Farley said. “I was pleased to have obtained State Legislative funding for this separate Graduate College building, which symbolizes the independence of the institution, yet its location adjacent to the main Union College campus emphasizes the continuing close ties between the two colleges."
In addition, Empire State Development has secured a $1 million budget initiative to fund construction of the new campus. New York State Assembly and Schenectady Metroplex (through the efforts of former Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko) are providing a $350, 000 State Legislative Grant.
“Higher education is at the very heart of economic development in New York State,” said Susan Savage, Chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, “We are very proudUnion Graduate College will make its permanent home in the heart of our community. This provides opportunities for this generation and the next generation to learn and work right here in the original Tech Valley.”
In private donations, the Wright Family Foundation has announced a gift of $100,000 toward the new campus. The Schenectady Foundation has also committed $75,000 to the project.
Union Graduate College’s new campus is being designed by Sacco+McKinney and built by MLB Construction. Financing is being provided by M&T Bank.