Education capital projects receive state funds

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RIT’s Saunders College of Business plans significant upgrades, including lab and event spaces.
(Rendering: LaBella Associates/RIT)

More than $4.8 million in state funds are headed to the Rochester region for capital projects at area colleges and universities.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business led the pack with $4.7 million followed by Hobart and William Smith Colleges at $115,376 and St. John Fisher College with $52,000. 

Clarkson University, Fordham University, Manhattan College and St. John’s University received the most—$5 million each. In total, $57.2 million was distributed across the state.

The grants come through the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which supports projects that target construction of new lab and research spaces and instructional technologies, among other objectives. Campuses that receive grants are required to invest at least $3 of their own funds for every $1 of state funds they receive, state officials say.   

At RIT, the Saunders College of Business plans to use the funds to support the renovation of and expansion to its home, Max Lowenthal Hall. An $18.8 million project, the expansion is expected to add collaborative student spaces, case analysis rooms and applied research labs, including a behavioral research lab that will investigate hypotheses regarding human behavior and decision-making. 

The project also will include an auditorium and space for the hospitality and service innovation programs. The four-story addition will increase the existing space by roughly 80 percent, RIT said when the college received an undisclosed amount from its namesake, Philip Saunders.

“This grant will fund the expansion of a nationally ranked business school, ensuring a quality, technology-driven education for our RIT business students in Rochester,” says Vanessa Herman, vice president for government and community relations at RIT.

St. John Fisher plans to use the grant to buy furniture and equipment to create innovative learning spaces. The colleges at Hobart and William Smith also plan to outfit advanced classrooms.

“HECap stimulates the economy by matching private funds with public dollars to directly invest in communities and students,” says Drew Bogner, interim president for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

He says the funding for private and nonprofit educational institutions will help campuses build and renovate while investing in their communities and supporting jobs.

According to the CICU, private, nonprofit colleges and universities enroll 40 percent of the 1.2 million students who sign up for postsecondary education in the state. Private colleges in New York award nearly half of the bachelor’s, 72 percent of the master’s and 78 percent of the doctoral degrees.  

The commission estimates these colleges and universities generate $88.8 billion in annual economic impact and support 415,600 jobs.

The grants were awarded following a competitive application process. The HECap board includes members chosen by the speaker of the Assembly, the temporary president of the Senate, and a third member chosen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state Dormitory Authority administers the program.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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