SUNY Schenectady unveils new welcome center (with 13 photos)

SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono, left, SUNY Schenectady senior Rondacia McPherson and Interim Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela McCall, back center, participate in a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the college's new Welcome Center in Schenectady on Tuesday.
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SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono, left, SUNY Schenectady senior Rondacia McPherson and Interim Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela McCall, back center, participate in a ceremonial ribbon cutting for the college's new Welcome Center in Schenectady on Tuesday.

SCHENECTADY — Following months of planning, construction and pandemic-induced delays, SUNY Schenectady finally unveiled its new student welcome center this week that college officials say will ease the enrollment process for students.

The Welcome Center, located on the first floor of the college’s Elston Hall, was first floated as part of the college’s 2017 facilities master plan. While design work to renovate the former open space in the student hall began back in 2019, construction stalled following the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, according to Steady Moono, the college’s president.

“It allowed us to go back and take another look at how we wanted it designed,” he said. “It wasn’t really lost time because it gave us an opportunity to rethink several floors within the welcome center itself.”

Costs for the $537,218 project were split evenly between Schenectady County and the state.

Moono was joined at a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday by county officials and Johanna Duncan-Poitier, the vice chancellor for community colleges and the education pipeline for the State University of New York.

The center consolidates three of the most commonly used student services into one location: the office of admissions, financial aid office and the student business office.

Most students are helped via a series of service windows, but those who enter are met with a sleek, modern design that consists of glass-doored offices. There’s also common room space for students to work. The center was designed by C2 Design Group in Glenville.

Moono said the center was constructed in response to students’ needs.

The Welcome Center upgrades are the latest the college has undertaken in recent years. In 2021, the college unveiled a $10 million upgrade to its learning commons, completely overhauling the Begley Library to include a cafe, study rooms, enhanced student space and new technology.

Photos (13)

SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono, Schenectady senior and college student Rondacia McPherson, and Interim Deal of Academic Affairs Pamela McCall (back center) cut the ribbon ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady senior book keeper at the student business office Karley Enright works at her new desk ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady admissions advisor Thairy Echevalria shows off the new ‘huddle room’ ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
Officials tour the students business, admissions and financial aide offices ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady Assistant Dean of Financial Aid Mark Bessette gives tours ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
Schenectady senior and SUNY Schenectady ’23 student Rondacia McPherson speaks ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
Schenectady senior and SUNY Schenectady ’23 student Rondacia McPherson speaks ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges Johanna Duncan-Poitier ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
Schenectady County Legislature Gary Hughes ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady President Dr. Steady Moono ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE
SUNY Schenectady Interim Deal of Academic Affairs Pamela McCall speaks ERICA MILLER/ DAILY GAZETTE

The college has also been working to bolster student enrollment in recent years by expanding its international presence and creating new programming that might interest prospective students.

The college is currently in the process of creating a cannabis-related program after receiving a state grant in partnership with SUNY Adirondack, Columbia-Greene Community College and Fulton-Montgomery Community College, which Moono expects to have more details on by the summer.

Enrollment at the college, like all community colleges in the SUNY system, has been on the decline for the last decade, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Between the fall of 2019 and 2021, the college’s enrollment has dropped 22%, falling from 4,732 to 3,705, according to SUNY data.

With the Welcoming Center, the college is hoping to ease the application process for students, eliminating a potential barrier in obtaining a higher education.

Previously, a student seeking assistance with financial aid would have to travel to the second floor of Elston Hall and to a separate building entirely if they had questions pertaining to their application.

The combined offices simplify the application process for students, while making the campus less daunting for students seeking services, according to Mark Bessette, assistant dean of financial aid.

“When I first got here, I felt like this building was huge. I’ve been here for six years and it feels like this building is a lot smaller, but for all of our new students, it feels huge every day they walk in,” he said.

Duncan-Poitier said the center is an example of the college making students feel more at home.

“This is going to make such a difference in terms of students recognizing that they are welcomed to this institution,” she said.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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