News Column

New Jersey Approves $1.3 Billion in College Construction Projects

May 2, 2013

New Jersey's Office of Higher Education has approved $1.3 billion in construction projects for the state's public and private colleges, approving 176 of 250 applications for funding.

Locally, Richard Stockton College will get almost $54 million, Atlantic Cape Community College will get $8.2 million, Cumberland County College $2.5 million and Ocean County College $12.5 million. The colleges must contribute some matching funds.

The largest amounts will go to Rutgers, which will get $357 million spread over all campuses, and Rowan University, which will receive almost $118 million. Fifteen private colleges, including Princeton University, also received some funds.

The money comes from a combination of sources, including a $750 million bond referendum approved by voters in November and funds remaining in four other higher education programs.

Stockton will use $21.5 million for an addition to the new science building scheduled to open in the fall and $6.4 million for equipment for the building. Another $13.5 million will be used for an academic classroom building across from the new science building. Another $6.4 million will be used to upgrade HVAC systems to make them more energy-efficient; $4.2 million will go to renovate the Arts and Sciences building; $1.2 million for education technology; and $775,000 for network upgrades.

Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp Jr. said the college has put money in its annual budget for capital projects that can be used as the matching funds. The college investment fund could also be tapped. He said the priority will be the science building equipment, the energy-efficiency projects, renovations and upgrades.

"Roof replacements and things like that are not exciting, but they are important," Saatkamp said. "Our Arts and Sciences building in particular needs significant attention."

He said the new buildings will require more planning and Pinelands Commission approval, which will likely take a year or so and give college officials time to address the resulting parking shortages. Projects approved by the state were for academic purposes only.

Atlantic Cape will get almost $2.7 million for a new Student Success Center in Mays Landing, $500,000 to create a Student Success Center on the cape may county campus and $680,000 to add a Student Success Center in Atlantic City. The college will also get almost $3 million to convert Simon Lake Hall into general classrooms when a new science building opens. Another $800,000 will be used to buy new computers.

President Peter Mora said the two county governments will provide the required matching share, and the approval allows them to actively move forward on projects that have been on hold due to lack of funding.

"These were approved years ago as part of the Blueprint 20/20 master plan," Mora said.

He said the technology committee already met Tuesday to develop a plan to move forward as soon as the funds become available.

Cumberland County College received funding to renovate and expand the academic building and upgrade technology. Ocean County College will be funded for major infrastructure and technology upgrades at the Toms River campus.

The state Legislature must still review the approvals and can dispute any of the approved projects.



Source: (c)2013 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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