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South Hall Science Building Opens; Classes to Start in January

Front row, from left, holding scissors: Yasmin E. Hernandez-Manno, MCC trustee; Blanquita Valenti, freeholder; Ronald Rios, freeholder director; Dorothy K. Power, MCC board chairman; College President Joann La Perla-Morales; Robert Burke, a science major from the class of 1970 who became a pediatrician; Anissa Bousellam ’14; Mark McCormick, MCC’s vice president for academic and student affairs; and Linda Scherr, dean of arts and sciences. They are surrounded by other County and College officials, as well as faculty and staff in the Natural Sciences Department. Classes begin in the building in January.

Front row, from left, holding scissors: Yasmin E. Hernandez-Manno, MCC trustee; Blanquita Valenti, freeholder; Ronald Rios, freeholder director; Dorothy K. Power, MCC board chairman; College President Joann La Perla-Morales; Robert Burke, a science major from the class of 1970 who became a pediatrician; Anissa Bousellam ’14; Mark McCormick, MCC’s vice president for academic and student affairs; and Linda Scherr, dean of arts and sciences. They are surrounded by other County and College officials, as well as faculty and staff in the Natural Sciences Department. Classes begin in the building in January.

For the second time in less than a month, Middlesex County College formally opened a new building. Called South Hall, the two-story, 36,000-square- feet facility includes 14 science labs dedicated to general biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, genetics, microbiology and general science. Classes will begin in January of 2017.

“We’re all excited about the new facility,” said Parag Muley, chair of Natural Sciences. “It looks spacious and inviting. Students and faculty are going to find it to be state-of- the-art, and a really good educational space. It’s going to be equipped with the latest and the greatest equipment for training. We are eager to get started. We can’t wait.”

South Hall, which cost $18.2 million, was funded through the State of New Jersey’s Building Our Future Bond Act, along with a 25 percent match from the County.

“It took many steps to complete this project and to arrive at this day,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting. “South Hall has been designed as a facility where students can experience in-depth, hands-on training in a wide range of scientific studies. It illustrates our shared dedication to offering quality education in state-of- the-art facilities to prepare our students for growing and in-demand fields.

“My fellow freeholders and I will always be proud to contribute to the education of Middlesex County, and are proud to have contributed $3.4 million to the project, to match the funds the College received from the State of New Jersey’s Building Our Future Bond Act. And building our future is exactly what we are doing. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. One day, the scientific breakthroughs made in these laboratories may go on to change our world for the better.”

South Hall sits on land that held two smaller buildings, South 1 and 2, which predated MCC when the site was an Army Arsenal. South 1 was used as a maintenance shop for the Arsenal and South 2 was a tank repair shop. When the College took them over, they became classrooms and student support offices. Most recently, they were the temporary home for the James Monroe Elementary School when a fire destroyed its building in 2014.

Dorothy K. Power, chairman of the MCC Board of Trustees, recalled the history.

“What a difference from the old Arsenal that once occupied this space, and in the interim, provided classrooms for our young James Monroe Elementary School students and teachers in grades 1-5 starting on a on a cold windy day in March 2014,” she said. “The change that has taken place on this plot of land over the last six decades is remarkable. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, congratulations to all who made this happen and good luck to all the students who study here.”

College President Joann La Perla-Morales echoed her remarks.

“Although the old South Halls have gone, our connection to the past is constant,” she said. “What connects the first days of the college on the Arsenal site to our present is the continuing commitment of everyone at the College to provide access, opportunity and excellence for the residents of Middlesex County. We are most grateful to both the County of Middlesex and the State of New Jersey for making the funding available for this beautiful facility.”

In September, MCC opened West Hall, a new enrollment center. Donald Drost, executive director of facilities management, said the College will submit the two buildings for LEED certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,
is an internationally recognized mark
of excellence that provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Crabiel Hall, which was completed in 2011, received a Silver ranking and Mr. Drost expects West Hall and South Hall to earn a Silver or Gold mark.