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Farmingdale State proposes new $53M academic building

A rendering of a proposed new $53 million

A rendering of a proposed new $53 million academic building at Farmingdale State College. Credit: Farmingdale State College

Farmingdale State College has proposed a new $53 million academic building, a critical step as it struggles to house its rapidly growing student population.

The building, for applied sciences, would require an investment from the state and take three years to construct, college president John S. Nader said.

In the interim, the more than 10,000-student institution is considering recommendations from the space utilization task force — formed by Nader last winter — that include converting conference rooms into classroom space, adjusting its academic schedule and increasing support for online and hybrid courses, he said.

“We’re trying to get out and speak to our legislators and civic organizations here on Long Island to tell them the story of the college’s success. That success has led to growth that is now straining the capacity of the college for students who qualify for admission here,” Nader said.

Enrollment at the four-year college has increased nearly 47 percent, from 6,858 students in fall 2010 to 10,059 enrolled this fall, according to SUNY data. There are 10,007 undergraduate students enrolled this fall, 7,839 of whom attend full-time, and 2,168 who attend part-time, according to the college. There are 52 graduate students. 

Nader attributed the rise in enrollment to growth in programs, particularly in its School of Engineering Technology and School of Business, as well as the college’s location on the border of Nassau and Suffolk counties. A number of students attend Farmingdale after having finished programs at Nassau Community College and Suffolk County Community College, he said.  Nader noted that the college has been increasing its selectivity while increasing its enrollment.  

College officials announced their plans for the new academic building Friday, appealing to state and local representatives at the institution’s annual Legislative Breakfast.

The announcement comes after Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul this month announced the school would receive $790,000 — as part of a $6 million distribution to 10 SUNY campuses — to provide apprenticeships, internships and educational programs to train workers in emerging clean-energy jobs.

The building, critical to the school’s ability to grow enrollment, would have approximately 11 classrooms, three labs, and house the departments for applied psychology, applied economics and geographic information systems — all areas with high employment rates or projected high employment rates, the school said.

With the building, enrollment could increase by more than 800 students, Nader said.

The additional classroom space would also help as the college embarks on a more than $30 million project to renovate Lupton Hall, built in 1952, he said.

Nearly half of the 64-campus system’s academic facilities  —  about 45 percent —  was built between 1965 and 1975, according to SUNY.

The last building constructed on Farmingdale's campus was the School of Business in spring 2015, at a cost of $19.3 million. The college in September 2017 reopened Conklin Hall student center after a $12 million renovation to the building, which dates to 1915, according to the school.

Work on the new academic building cannot begin until the funds are secured, Nader said, adding that he hopes the 2019 state budget includes a capital plan for SUNY.

“Our single greatest capital priority, and really legislative priority, is the new academic building,” Nader said.

During the last budget cycle, state Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Lindenhurst), and state Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), circulated letters to other members of the Long Island delegation in an attempt to get the capital funding in the 2018-19 budget.  Jean-Pierre, who was at the event Friday, said she plans to continue to push for the aid next budget season.

“SUNY Farmingdale is an engine for Long Island’s regional economic growth, and this new academic building will further strengthen the college’s ability to attract prospective students, expand its curriculum and ultimately benefit the greater Long Island economy,” she said in an emailed statement.

Brooks, who also attended the event, pledged to push for the funding.

“I will work with my colleagues in Albany to ensure Farmingdale State College gets the state aid it deserves and needs to help serve more students and Long Island families,” he said in an emailed statement.

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