November 17, 2016

New Environmentally Sustainable, Technologically Advanced Facility Dramatically Advances SUNY Empire State College’s Specialized Statewide Mission

Left to right: SUNY Trustee and Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy, state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Town of Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle, SUNY Empire State College President Merodie A. Hancock, state Sen. Joe Robach. Photo credit: SUNY Empire State College
Left to right: SUNY Trustee and Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy, state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle, SUNY Empire State College President Merodie A. Hancock, state Sen. Joe Robach.

(BRIGHTON, N.Y. – Nov. 17, 2016) Members of the SUNY Empire State College community were joined by state and local elected officials, business and community leaders and the general public for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the college’s new $10 million, two-story, 30,000 square foot, technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable and handicapped-accessible facility.

“Today’s exciting celebration represents a milestone and a big leap forward for how SUNY Empire meets its special, statewide mission,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “I am very grateful for the support of SUNY Trustee Bob Duffy, state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, state Senator Joe Robach, Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle and all the other state, regional and local elected officials who have been such a big part of making the completion of SUNY Empire’s newest facility a reality. So many SUNY Empire employees, faculty, professional and support staff also deserve a great deal of praise for their hard work and the outstanding result. My thanks and admiration go to all of you.”

SUNY Trustee and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, “The new facility positions Empire State College to become even stronger in providing a flexible education experience for working adults and other nontraditional students. Part of that flexibility is the blending of online and face-to-face learning. This type of education is critical for career enhancement and workforce development needed for the jobs of today and the future.”

“The new Empire State College facility will be a critical resource to expanding educational access and opportunities for those who live and work in the Rochester area,” said state Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle. “Investing in education means investing in the future of our state. I would like to thank and congratulate Empire State College, the town of Brighton and all of the community partners who worked tirelessly to make today a reality."

State Sen. Joseph E. Robach said, “This is an exciting day for the Town of Brighton and our entire community as we officially open SUNY Empire State College’s new state-of-the-art learning facility. SUNY Empire State College offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees, with the added convenience of online or traditional classroom courses, preparing students and experienced business professionals alike for the start of their new career or career advancement.”

“Among Brighton’s core values are educational excellence, diversity and sustainability,” said Brighton Town Supervisor William W. Moehle. "Empire State College makes higher education accessible to nontraditional adult students from throughout the Rochester region in this centrally located and state of the art Brighton facility, which will be a model of sustainable development for others to emulate. President Hancock and her team have worked effectively with the Town of Brighton throughout the process. I am particularly grateful to Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who facilitated the important discussions that brought Empire State College to this location, and to State Senator Joe Robach, who helped make this day possible.”

Situated on 4.2 acres and located at 680 Westfall Road in the town of Brighton, the new facility was designed and constructed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating.

Advanced technology features that enhance and improve teaching and learning include:

  • Node Nexus: The building showcases a glassed-in node nexus, the physical engine that drives the technology in the building, both a visual centerpiece and a teaching tool.
  • Immersive Cloud Learning (ICL) Source/Destination Rooms: There are rooms dedicated to both delivering and receiving course content. Via the high-end Polycom camera system, Rochester-based faculty members can use ICL source rooms to instruct students across the state simultaneously, who are in specially equipped destination rooms, including one in Rochester. Students can collaborate, share files, make presentations and learn from instructors at distant locations in real time.
  • Technology Enhanced Active Learning Spaces: Specially equipped TEAL spaces enable students to share content from their own devices or college-provided loaner laptops.
  • Digital Signage and Video: Visitors can view programming on a screen in the lobby, featuring college-produced videos and scheduled live-stream events.

“The new facility goes a very long way in advancing the special mission of SUNY Empire because it provides more and better options for our students in terms of what, when, how and where they best learn,” said Hancock. “In real time, at any time, online and face-to-face, one-to-one and in groups large and small, SUNY Empire students are motivated to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the new facility enables more students, across the state and around the globe, to achieve their academic and life goals.”

SUNY Empire educates approximately 1,000 students in the greater Genesee Valley region and, because of the advanced ICL technology, the college will be able to connect thousands more students with each other and with a greater number of faculty previously not accessible.

For example, ICL technology has been in place at the college’s Manhattan and Staten Island locations since 2015 enabling approximately 4,000 students to have ready access to those two locations.

By leveraging ICL technology, students and faculty in all three locations now are able to engage in teaching and learning at a distance and in a very high-quality environment.

Since the college first adopted ICL technology, its faculty have offered 12 courses and sections.

They are:

  • Food and History, two sections
  • Substance Abuse in Human Services
  • Science of Food
  • Music Appreciation, two sections
  • Counseling Skills
  • Reading Instruction in the Elementary School
  • Working with the Disabled: Interventions & Accommodations
  • Photo Blogging
  • Digital Literacy
  • Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy.

Digital Literacy, taught by Allison Moreland, an educational technologist, is the first course to originate from the new facility, with Staten Island as the ICL destination.

Photo Blogging, taught by Terry Boddie, a lecturer who also mentors students, and Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, taught by Associate Professor Gina Torino, originate from Manhattan and their ICL destinations are the new facility and Staten Island.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 19,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, 34 locations across the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and coursework on site, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 78,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977. Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications, SUNY Empire State College 

518-587-2100, ext. 2918 

518-321-7038, cell