An army of shovels dug in unison into the waist-high dirt pile Thursday in the middle of the Farmingdale State College campus, a symbolic act with a very real impact on the future trajectory of the school.
After 100 years of steady growth and adaptation, the SUNY school is rocketing into a decade that will see Farmingdale State morph into a far more significant player on the Long Island education scene.
It began with construction of the student center, slated for completion by the end of the year. And it continued Thursday with a far more ambitious project, the groundbreaking of the $26.7 million, 42,000-square-foot School of Business.
“It will be an outstanding addition to our academic buildings, our first since 1983,” said Farmingdale State President W. Hubert Keen, who shoveled dirt with more enthusiasm than any one of the VIPs wearing a hardhat. “It’s high time we expanded facilities in addition to renovations also going on.”
A blueprint that calls for a master’s program has Farmingdale State looking more attractive to would-be students. Enrollment is up and U.S. News & World Report recently rated the school among the best in the North.
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The largely state-funded expansion coincides with a roadmap Keen unveiled in April. It calls for , 1,000 new students, 70 more full-time faculty and several new buildings.
Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R-Merrick, and Assemb. Bob Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, who helped secure funding for the project, were on hand.
“When you are willing to give credit to everyone else,” Sweeney said of Keen, “it’s easier to get things done.”
Fuschillo echoed that sentiment, saying the Farmingdale State building boom began with the intangibles. The atmosphere is right for expansion on campus.
There are 2,032 students currently enrolled in business programs. The three-story building in the heart of campus would add classrooms, a computer lab and office space. Islandia-based Stalco Construction will serve as general contractor for the project. Urbahn Architects of New York designed the new building.
Keen called this just one sign of the “dramatic renewal of the campus” now underway.
The shovels, smiles and optimism were another sign that Farmingdale State’s expansion is going to resonate far beyond its campus.