The launch of construction for Jefferson Community Colleges first residence hall was seen by administrators as the start of a new era for its students.
Carole A. McCoy, the colleges president, said the presence of student residents will increase interest in on-campus activities and academics and improve their graduation prospects.
In the end, thats what we want; we want students who are successful, and this is a big piece in helping them do that, she said.
The college held a ground- breaking ceremony on campus Thursday afternoon that drew about 100 attendees. To account for the rainy weather, speeches to mark the occasion were done indoors, before attendees moved outside for the ground breaking.
Work on the $17 million project will begin this summer, and when completed, the residence hall will have 298 beds. The building is expected to be complete in time for use in the fall 2014 semester.
The 98,000-square-foot building will include a range of three- to six-person suites along with common study lounges, a computer lab and meeting room, along with a cafe.
The project has been in the works for about the past five years, after facing setbacks due to financial limitations at the state and federal level.
Projects like this have their right time, Mrs. McCoy said. She noted that the move to add residence halls to community college campuses has been in the works for about the past ten years.
This is the right thing now, she said.
About half of SUNYs 33 community colleges offer or are in the process of creating residence halls for their students, a release from the college said.
The building will be owned and operated by the Faculty Student Association Auxiliary LLC. The association boards president, Jack N. Donato, said the residence hall would make the college a 24-7 campus.
Its going to broaden opportunities for all students, he said.
Julie R. Schindler, student government association president, said the residence made sense given the size of the county and the limited transportation resources some students have.
I think its going to change how students view coming here, she said.
Remembering her first time in college, Ms. Schindler, who is working on her second associate degree in mathematics, said living in a residence hall was a fantastic experience for kids to have.
Among the companies involved in the development of the building are Purcell Construction Corp., Watertown, Mach Architecture and Engineering, P.C., Williamsville, Bernier, Carr and Associates, Watertown, and Beardsley Design Associates, Auburn.