Montclair State University, the biggest beneficiary of the $750-million “Building Our Future” Bond Act approved by voters in November, held a groundbreaking ceremony for two new buildings Wednesday morning.
The university will use $94 million awarded by the state in April to partially fund a new Center for Environmental and Life Sciences and School of Business.
Montclair State University President Susan Cole said the bond marks the first major capital investment in higher education in 25 years. Cole said she began requesting funding eight years ago and never gave up.
“The fact that these buildings are rising out of the ground is a lesson in perseverance,” Cole told those gathered in the quad, which included hundreds of science and business students wearing t-shirts in the school’s red and white colors.
Cole thanked Gov. Chris Christie and State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who were not present, for pushing for the bond. She also thanked the university’s board of trustees.
“Our board has had the vision and the courage to see what Montclair State University could be in service to this state,” she said.
Some 19,500 undergraduate and graduate students are currently enrolled at Montclair. Of those, 2,600 are pursuing majors in the sciences and 2,200 are studying business.
The $55-million, 107,500-square-foot Center for Environmental and Life Sciences will increase the school’s science research infrastructure by 50 percent.
A 150-seat lecture hall, classrooms and computer labs, as well as market research/analysis labs and a financial trading floor are some of the highlights of the $66 million, 143,000-square-foot School of Business.
Sen. Kevin O'Toole, R-Essex, grew up in Cedar Grove not far from what he remembers as Montclair State College. O'Toole said Montclair has come a long way from what he said was thought of as a "back-up school" when he was looking to become the first member of his family to attend college.
The senator, as did others who spoke at the ceremony, credited Cole with the college’s transformation, both physically and academically.
“It is her ferocious advocacy for higher education that has put Montclair State University on the map both regionally and nationally,” O’Toole said.
Student Government Association President George Juzdan, a senior accounting major, represented the student body at the ceremony.
“These two buildings are a direct message that the university’s interest is truly in the students,” Juzdan said.
Construction by Terminal Construction Corporation based in Wood-Ridge officially began in August. The buildings are expected to be completed by spring 2015.