SUNY Schenectady Unveils New $10.1 Million Learning Commons
At the end of this month when students return to the SUNY Schenectady campus for in-person classes, they will be greeted not only by professors and staff, but also by the college’s new $10 million Learning Commons, an impressive, open space for collaborative learning, camaraderie, exchange of ideas, student support services, and professional development for faculty.
The new 30,000-square-foot facility will offer students a centralized math, writing, accounting, and other academic support areas; the Center for Excellence in Teaching; study rooms; student collaborative spaces; the Educational Opportunity Program; IT support; a reading area; café; and library stacks.
Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady, summed up the sentiment of college officials during today’s grand opening of the new Learning Commons with four simple, yet profound words: “Our students deserve this,” he said addressing a small group of partners, governmental leaders, donors, and college staff who toured the new space.
“Every decision we make, every course we offer, every new academic program we design – we do it all with the success of students as our number one priority. Our new Learning Commons is an extraordinary representation of this commitment to our students. It will serve as the new heart of campus — the nucleus of our College community — a dynamic hub of learning and growth for students, faculty, staff, and our local community.”
Dr. Moono went on to describe how construction of the new two-story Learning Commons, a complete redesign of the library in the Begley Building, proceeded despite the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Construction was briefly halted in Spring 2020 during New York State on PAUSE, but resumed during the summer.
“When construction on the Learning Commons began in June 2019, we could never have anticipated the unforeseen course that this process would take due to the pandemic,” he said, praising the work of the college’s partners in the project. “Despite the challenges of the past 17 months, through the support of Schenectady County, the State of New York and SUNY, the work of ENVISION Architects, the generosity of everyone who donated to the College Foundation, and the dedication of our faculty/staff, the Learning Commons is now a reality. It will forever stand as a testament to strength and growth on our campus.”
He added that the Learning Commons is a shining example of delivering a meaningful student experience, one of the four pillars of success contained in the college’s Strategic Plan, Many Voices, One Call 2021-2026, as well as upgrading and modernizing technology infrastructure, providing training opportunities for faculty and staff to develop innovative practices, and streamlining college practices.
Dr. Jim Malatras, Chancellor of the State University of New York, congratulated SUNY Schenectady on the new Learning Commons and all that is has to offer for students.
"As students are preparing to return to campus there is no better timing to deliver on a new learning space that will serve as a central hub for students to collaborate, connect, and get back into in-person learning. The Learning Commons at SUNY Schenectady will provide a wide variety of resources, support services and study rooms, and bring a sense of long awaited community on campus for students. I’d like to thank SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono and his team for seeing this project through, as well as Schenectady County, the State of New York, and the SUNY Schenectady Foundation for making this vision a reality.”
Funding for the Learning Commons was provided by Schenectady County, the State of New York, and the SUNY Schenectady Foundation through The Promise of Our Common Future Campaign. Anthony Jasenski Sr., Chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature, shared the importance of the county’s investment in the Learning Commons for SUNY Schenectady students and the community.
“SUNY Schenectady is vital to our community, and the County is proud to support the College and our students,. The Schenectady County Legislature recognized the importance of this new facility from the start, and we were more than pleased to allocate funding for the Learning Commons through one of the largest single financial commitments the County has ever made.”
Jennifer Malave, a Human Services major who is President of the Student Government Association, was on hand for the grand opening and conveyed her excitement about what the new Learning Commons represents for students.
“It is thrilling to be standing in this beautiful, new space and to know that students coming to SUNY Schenectady for the first time this fall, as well as those of us who are returning, will be able to benefit from all of the expanded support services and academic resources here. It makes me proud to serve as a student leader at SUNY Schenectady where our administration and everyone who supported this project are thinking about the future and delivering on their promise to do all that they can to help us succeed.”
In addition to the Learning Commons, this fall SUNY Schenectady will welcome students to two other new learning spaces. In the Confections Lab in the Mill Lane Artisan District in downtown Schenectady, students in the Culinary Arts/Baking programs will learn how to produce “bean to bar” chocolate, and in the Gaming Center at Center City students will take courses in the Programming for Game Design Degree program.