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How Long Island colleges enrich their communities

Long Island colleges and universities contribute much more to their surrounding neighborhoods than just social scenes. Whether through on-campus events and services, or off-campus community engagement, colleges infuse the local culture with its own unique character. An example is Adelphi University's athletic department which donates over 2,000 hours of time to community service initiatives each year.  Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles

The phrase “college town” may call to mind images of young revelers out on the town — and Long Island is not without its similar scenes. Think of vibrant Farmingdale Village — just a five-minute drive from Farmingdale State College — where a mix of eateries and night spots cater to the college-age set with trendy menus, live music and more.

But Long Island colleges and universities contribute much more to their surrounding neighborhoods than just social scenes. Whether through on-campus events and services, or off-campus community engagement, each institution infuses the local culture with its own unique character.

Following is a sampling of Long Island neighborhoods where residents enjoy the perks of living near a college campus.

For international flair, try Stony Brook

Stony Brook University, a public research university and home to Stony Brook University Hospital, has close to 27,000 students, including 2,500 international students from more than 100 countries. On campus, the university celebrates this diversity with numerous cross-cultural events that are free and open to the public.

And off campus, this large and multicultural population helps support an eclectic array of nearby restaurants. For instance, university students frequent the lunch buffet at the Curry Club — an East Setauket restaurant, just a one-minute drive from campus, that serves Indian fare, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

When owner Kulwant Wadhwa opened the restaurant 25 years ago, the university was “not that crowded,” he recalls. “Now it’s kind of like another city inside the university.” Indeed, total enrollment has swelled by nearly 52% since then — and the restaurant scene has grown as well. These days, locals enjoy many choices — from authentic dim sum to Korean barbecue and more — in the area surrounding the university’s 1,039-acre main campus.

For community enrichment, try Adelphi

Adelphi University’s 75-acre campus is in Garden City. Its proximity to several museums enables interesting collaborations, such as a recent gallery talk by an Adelphi professor at the Nassau County Museum of Art, and discussions led by Adelphi students at The Long Island Children's Museum. And the Cradle of Aviation Museum showcases student talent at its annual Music & Astronomy Night, which Adelphi co-hosts.

“We love in general working with Adelphi, because they are great partners, excited partners, and this has led to other things we’ve done together,” says Kerri Kiker, planetarium education coordinator. For instance, a musical ensemble-in-residence at Adelphi performed for elementary students at the museum in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

On campus, the private university hosts many public events such as robotics competitions, art exhibits and more. Adelphi’s athletics department creates community connections with camps, clinics and charitable events, and the Garden City Department of Recreation and Parks holds winter swim lessons in Adelphi’s indoor pool. City residents pay $120 for a nine-week session. 

For a spirit of service, try Molloy

At Molloy College, a private Catholic college on a 30-acre campus in Rockville Centre, giving back to the community is an integral part of the school’s mission. Wherever there is a local need, area residents may encounter Molloy’s student volunteers — collecting and delivering food and supplies for local charities; staffing clinics to provide free or discounted screenings and seminars; holding toy drives and blood drives for local hospitals; and advocating for the environment.

Karla Umanzor, 21, an education major in Molloy’s five-year dual degree program, has volunteered since 2017 for the Mentoring Latinas program, in which Molloy Latina students serve as friends and role models for young Latinas at local schools.

“Sometimes these girls are first generation, and they don’t have anyone to look to that has gone to college after high school,” says Umanzor, who was born in the United States and has roots in El Salvador. “To be able to see yourself through the mentors is really powerful. I know because I am first generation, and my parents didn’t go to college.”

For festivals and events, try Hofstra

Visitors are regularly invited to enjoy Hofstra University’s scenic 240-acre campus — a nationally recognized arboretum — while attending any of the university’s events that are open to the public. For instance, area residents get to enjoy an Irish festival in the spring, an Italian festival in the fall and a Shakespeare festival, which celebrated its 70th year last spring. Admission to Irish and Italian festivals is $6 for adults, $5 for ages 65 and up, and free for children under 12. For the Shakespeare festival, tickets are $10; and $8 for ages 65 and up. 

The university has gained international attention as the host of three consecutive presidential debates, in 2008, 2012 and 2016. “The school itself is known around the world, so that’s just a big plus for buyers,” says Michael Matrisciano of Anthony Napolitano Homes. “It just adds value to the house, having such a prestigious school nearby,” Matrisciano says.

Locals also enjoy a variety of enrichment opportunities on campus, including continuing education, academic and career exploration programs, art exhibits, lectures and performances.

For the performing arts, try Long Island University

Long Island University’s scenic and historic 330-acre Brookville campus, known as LIU Post, is home to Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. The venue hosts more than 70 live performances each season in its 2,242-seat concert hall and 490-seat recital hall, bringing premier acts in music, theater and dance to Long Island.

Tilles Center’s Arts Education program partners with local schools and senior centers to offer workshops, field trips and special performances, reaching more than 16,000 students annually. To make the performing arts accessible to as many members of the community as possible, Tilles Center holds a variety of special programs.For instance, this spring, the center will present, “Branching Out” — a sensory-immersive theatrical performance designed specifically for people who are on the autism spectrum or have movement, sensory or communication needs. Tickets range from $11 to $20. And individuals with Parkinson’s disease can reap the benefits of dance and movement, free or charge, through the Dance for Parkinson’s program.  

What’s for sale

Here’s a look at available homes in five of Long Island’s college towns.

Buying near Stony Brook University

Featured listing

$639,000 in Stony Brook

This five-bedroom, four-bathroom Colonial on a 2.06-acre lot features a full finished basement and includes private beach rights. It's listed with Tor Johnson of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty. (631-697-3819).

On the market

In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 34 homes for sale in Stony Brook, ranging in price from $279,000 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch in need of renovation to $3.9 million for a four-bedroom, 6½-bathroom waterfront estate.

Buying near Adelphi University

Featured listing

$978,000 in Garden City

This four-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial, on a 60-by-100-foot lot, features a screened-in porch and a finished basement with a wet bar. It’s listed with Daureen Hausser of Daniel Gale Associates Inc. (516-640-2528).

On the market

In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 62 homes for sale in Garden City, ranging from $295,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op to $3.95 million for an eight-bedroom Colonial with seven full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

Buying near Molloy College

Featured listing

$549,000 in Rockville Centre

This four-bedroom, two-bathroom Cape, on a 40-by-100-foot lot, features wood floors and an updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances. It's listed with Tatiana Calabrese of Coldwell Banker Residential (516-512-9086).  

On the market

In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 79 homes for sale in Rockville Centre. Home prices ranged from $165,000 for a one-bathroom studio co-op apartment to $2.378 million for a six-bedroom, 3½-bathroom Colonial.

Buying hear Hofstra University

Featured listing

$449,999 in Hempstead

This three-bedroom, 1½-bathroom Cape on a 60-by-100-foot lot has a new kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and soft-close cabinetry. It’s listed with Anthony Napolitano and Michael Matrisciano of Anthony Napolitano Homes (516-798-4200).

On the market

In a recent search of MLSLI.com, there were 134 single-family homes listed for sale in Hempstead, ranging in price from $175,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op to $700,000 for a seven-bedroom, 5½-bathroom Cape.

Buying near Long Island University

Featured listing

$1.698 million in Brookville

This five-bedroom, 3½-bathroom Colonial is on a cul-de-sac. The a 2.01-acre lot features an in-ground pool. It’s listed with Shadi Arzanipour, Susan Paulenoff and Susan Berg of Coldwell Banker Residential (516-621-4336).

On the market

There were 35 homes for sale in Brookville in a recent search of MLSLI.com. Prices ranged from $1.375 million for a three-bedroom, 3½-bathroom ranch to $12.195 million for a seven-bedroom estate with seven full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

Garden City stars align

When the Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center needed musicians to perform live at a 2018 event, planetarium education coordinator Kerri Kiker knew just where to look.

The event, Music & Astronomy Night, would feature original space-exploration films created by Adelphi University students, set to live music.

But hiring professional musicians for previous shows had proved to be a financial stretch for the nonprofit museum. So Kiker got the idea to turn to Adelphi again — this time seeking student musicians.

“The professor jumped at the chance,” Kiker says. “He said, ‘That sounds amazing.’ He was really excited to have us partner with the kids, because they’d get experience performing.”

And perform they did, playing an array of musical styles and instruments to accompany a series of eight student films. “I put no restrictions on what they do,” says Kiker. “Original music, covers, improvised music, whatever they want.”

The resulting show was a creative fusion of art and science, made possible by the unique synergy between the museum and the university, which are both located in Garden City and are co-hosts of the event. “Honestly we wouldn’t be able to do Music & Astronomy Night without them,” Kiker says. Students from other colleges, including nearby Nassau Community College and Hofstra University, have contributed as well.

At this year’s show on Feb. 20, Adelphi student musicians will play along to museum-produced films. Tickets are available online or at the box office; $15 for general admission, $12 for members and students.

For lifelong learners

Adults living near a college or university may find convenient access to low-cost, low-pressure learning opportunities. For example, when space permits, some colleges offer tuition-free senior auditing programs, in which eligible adults can register to attend a class for personal enrichment, free from the academic responsibilities of earning grades or college credit. Other options may include continuing education courses, networking groups, professional certificate programs, noncredit classes and more. Here’s a sampling of what’s available for Long Island’s lifelong learners:

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University

Retired and semiretired adults can participate in lectures, peer-taught workshops, social events and more; the annual membership fee is $325. The university also allows adults over age 60 to audit one course during fall and spring semesters for a $50 registration fee.

Molloy College Institute for Lifelong Learning (MILL) program

Adults of all ages can apply for an annual membership that includes weekly group sessions, classes by Molloy College faculty, expert lectures and enrichment activities. Some memberships include the option to audit two classes per year. The annual membership fees range from $295-$495 for individuals and $500-$850 for couples.

Professional Studies and Continuing Education at LIU Post

The School of Professional Studies at Long Island University offers a variety of options for adult learners, including enrichment programs, noncredit courses, certificate programs, lectures, workshops and more. Prices vary.

Hofstra Personal Enrichment in Retirement (PEIR) program

Adults age 55 and over can learn, share and connect through activities such as luncheons, trips and discussion groups — and members can give presentations as well. The annual membership fee is $720 for individuals and $1,360 for couples. The university’s Lifelong Learners Program also offers professional development and personal enrichment courses; prices vary.

Institute for Learning in Retirement at Farmingdale State College

Retirees can attend a lecture series, study groups, tours, cultural events and more for a $60 annual membership fee, or $45 for spring semester only. The college also allows adults over age 60 to audit one class during fall and spring semesters for a $50 registration fee.

Adelphi Guest Scholars Program

Anyone 21 and over, except individuals previously or currently enrolled as matriculated students who have not graduated, can audit up to two classes per semester during the Fall and Spring semesters. $75-$175 registration fee (subject to change).

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