Same old story for SUNY Empire, in new Suffolk digs

And ... cut: Regional rainmakers and SUNY officials officially welcome Empire State College at Selden.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Long Island’s newest college is really nothing new.

Empire State College, stepchild of the State University of New York system, is all grown up, thank you: The school has been helping students, particularly working professionals, earn accredited degrees since 1971, both in-person – at 30 statewide locations and seven international sites – and, increasingly, through distance-learning opportunities.

But its 6.6-acre, $14 million Empire State College at Selden – that’s new, even if the Suffolk County campus actually welcomed students more than two months ago, at the start of the Fall 2019 semester.

The Selden school is new enough for a ribbon-cutting, at least, and on Wednesday, a host of SUNY dignitaries, local lawmakers and other regional stakeholders did the deed, ceremoniously opening Empire State College’s latest facility.

Surrounded by “public nature trails” maintained by The Nature Conservancy and the Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference – with easy access to Suffolk County’s “comprehensive hiking and biking trail network” – the campus is centered around a two-story, 26,668-square-foot building built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold standards and stocked with state-of-the-art tools, including Immersive Cloud Learning source and destination rooms and other “technologically enhanced active learning spaces,” according to SUNY.

Good as gold: Empire State College’s Selden facility is built to the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

While serving as a Long Island destination for many of Empire State College’s 17,000 total students – the school counts 1,300 registered students in Suffolk County alone – the cutting-edge Selden facility will also provide meeting and work spaces for outside organizations, creating “a hub for both our students and the community,” according to Empire State College President Jim Malatras.

“We’re proud to offer this incredible new learning facility and beautiful campus to our students on Long Island as well as the broader community,” Malatras said Wednesday. “I’m grateful to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the State Legislature … and the leaders in Suffolk County who helped make this happen.”

Cuomo said the new facility would help regional students “reach their full potential.”

“This new, state-of-the-art campus will connect thousands of Long Island students with world-class learning opportunities for decades to come,” the governor added. “When we provide New Yorkers with 21st century learning facilities like the SUNY Empire State College Long Island campus, we are … preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow, today.”

Jim Malatras: Broader themes.

Empire State College’s ICL protocols – which broaden access to expert professors by offering in-person instruction at multiple locations simultaneously, via high-definition video and audio networks – are a particularly useful innovation, according to State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), whom Malatras also singled out as key in bringing the Selden facility to fruition.

“I’m excited that the Long Island campus will bring leading-edge technology here for SUNY Empire students,” noted LaValle, former chairman and now ranking minority member Senate’s Higher Education Committee. “The state-of-the-art Immersive Cloud Learning will enable real-time interaction between students and faculty between campuses and expand learning opportunities.

“This facility will meet critical needs for SUNY Empire students across Long Island,” the senator added.

With performing arts spaces and programming on tap, Empire State College’s Selden facility is a full-on college campus with a specific mission, according to SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson, who trumpeted the school’s long and successful history with students of all ages.

“With cutting-edge technology and instructional methods, SUNY Empire [is] committed to providing educational opportunities for working professionals across Long Island,” Johnson said in a statement. “Our new Long Island hub will expand those opportunities, foster innovation and build community partnerships, all of which advance SUNY’s broad mission of connecting students to an affordable, high-quality education that meets their specific needs.”