Major College Goal Achieved

By Susan Helen Edelman


A long-held goal for Empire State College to build and operate from a permanent learning center in the Genesee Valley will be achieved in the spring of 2016. The college is on schedule to open its doors to a two-story, 30,000-square-foot, $13 million building at 680 Westfall Road, in the Town of Brighton. It’s the college’s first owned facility outside the Coordinating Center in Saratoga Springs.

Ground was broken for the project in October 2014, when college President Merodie Hancock said, “The new Rochester-region facility will be a model for teaching, learning and community engagement and service. The new space addresses how, why, when and where our nontraditional students best learn. Building upon Empire State College’s footprint in the area, we can enhance our response to economic and workforce development needs, as well as expand our offerings and community programs.”

Designed to be technologically cutting edge, the building will feature flexible spaces for offices, meetings and classes, be fully handicap-accessible, and offer conveniences like kitchenettes for employees. Construction will meet standards established by the U.S. Green Building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design initiative and the 4.2-acre site will be enhanced by a bike path on the perimeter, open to the college community and the public.

Watch the below interview with Jeffrey Ellenbogen, Director of Real Estate at SUNY Empire State College for a complete look at what's to come:


The space is designed to foster collaboration among students, faculty mentors, peer learning coaches and other members of the college community in real time, online or face to face, one to one and in groups, or through a blend of these approaches, making education convenient and practical for students. Additionally, the opening of the new facility means that the college will bring job opportunities and new residents to the area.

Students, faculty and others will be able to connect a variety of devices – such as laptops, tablets and smartphones – to video screens, present their work and use wall-sized whiteboards and open space for discussions. Students then may receive immediate support and feedback on-site and online from other students and faculty located across the state, or through digital content recorded at a later time. The creation and distribution of digital content will be supported by a state-of-the-art media production suite and video conferencing capability.

Funding for the project comes from the SUNY capital construction budget, and its execution was made possible thanks to the efforts of dedicated, foresighted officials including Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, who identified the appropriate empty New York state-owned property and arranged its transfer to SUNY Empire at no cost to the college. State Sen. Joseph Robach was instrumental in supporting the college’s request for an additional $1 million in state funds to strengthen the technological capabilities of the building. Both represent constituents in the Rochester area. Brighton Town Supervisor William Moehle helped the college navigate the process of obtaining local easements and permits and former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, a native of the Genesee Valley, also contributed to smoothing the land acquisition and permitting processes.

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