Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and other local leaders joined members of the St.Joseph’s College community Monday to break ground on SJC Long Island’s new $17 million student center.
The two-story, 32,000-square-foot facility will include a dining area, art gallery, new chapel and office for campus ministry, veterans lounge, spirit gift shop, and computer and lounge spaces. It will also feature conference areas and meeting rooms and offices for faculty, staff and student clubs, and space for the campus’ new Esports team.
“A college without a student center is like a village without a park,” Pontieri told an audience that included St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., and several members of the college’s Board of Trustees. “It’s where (students) go to relax, where they socialize, whey they learn who they are and who their friends are.”
Bellone praised the College for helping “lead the way” in the region’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Moving forward with this incredible vision is one of best indicators of the fact that we are emerging very strongly from this pandemic and that we are going to enjoy great success and prosperity in this post-COVID world,” the county executive said.
Construction of the project — the Patchogue campus’ first in 18 years — is expected to be completed by spring 2023.
Dr. Boomgaarden described to the audience of about 70 people how the student center ties in to the plan that the Sisters of St. Joseph had when they established the College in 1916 — to create a sense of mission and transformation in young people so they could go out and make the world a better place.
“This student center exemplifies that — the sense of spirituality and reaching into the community and transforming the community for the better,” he said. “It’s what St. Joseph’s College is all about.”
St. Joseph’s Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Carroll ’88, Esq., said the groundbreaking ceremony filled him with a tremendous sense of pride.
“To think that future students are going to have the opportunity for this — to have (the student center) as their place of building community, spirit and family … means more than anything else I’ve done in my career,” Carroll said. “This is going to build the future. It’s going to build better students. It’s going to build a better world.”
Antonia Dickson, president of SJC Long Island’s Student Government Association, expressed gratitude on behalf of the student body.
“I am grateful to attend a college where the administration is continually looking forward,” Dickson said. “To create a building centered around students, and knowing we need a building to meet and expand our relationships, is amazing.”