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Woodland Park’s Berkeley College campus hooked up with new $9 million student hub

Berkeley College students, adminsitration and faculty welcomed their new student center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, covered in the Passaic Valley Today. To view the full article, please click here.

WOODLAND PARK - A $9 million privately funded student center completed this summer is operational and will be used when Berkeley College starts its fall semester at the end of this month, college officials said.

The new 35,000-square-foot facility at the Garret Mountain campus, called Renaissance Hall, includes six classrooms, student gathering places, a dining facility, and a library. It will serve the campus population, which the college's chief operating officer hopes will reach upwards of 700 students this year.

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[Woodland Park's Berkeley College campus has a new academic building and student center called Renaissance Hall, shown here from the outside and inside.]

College officials gave a tour of the new facility on Monday, and described the developing student composition that brought about the change for the campus in Woodland Park nearly three years ago at the start of the project.

"There was a need to maximize and serve more of a commuter population," said Ilene Greenfield, college spokeswoman, while standing in the spacious center atrium of the three-story building. "So a small residential portion of the college closed to make way for this."

She said that part of the new facility was converted from a chapel built by Tombrock College. That college was at the site until 1976, when Berkeley came to what was then West Paterson.

Linda Pinsky-Mauro, chief operating officer for the school's Garret Mountain campus said, "The campus is going through a renaissance so this building is going to really liven up the campus for visitors, as well as current students by providing more classroom space and providing more student services space."

The new complex has six new classrooms, Pinsky-Mauro said. The classrooms have been put to use during the college's summer semester, and the response from students has been positive.

"This is their home away from home," Pinsky Mauro said. "Renaissance Hall, they don't want to leave it. They stay here in between classes. They have the opportunity to go to the fitness center. They have the opportunity to participate in clubs, do group study sessions, and go to group meetings."

The office of student development and campus life, as well as a bookstore, are among the new facets of the school housed in the building, she said.

Students, both at work and at play, seemed pleased with their surroundings in the new center.

Vedika Rupee, a communication major from Clifton, and a junior, was at the library borrowing a net-book that day to be used in combination with the center's wireless network.

"I'm really impressed," she said of the building, which has a curved expanse of windows at its front. "Actually, I didn't think it would be this beautiful."

Jonathan Melo, an information technology major from Cliffside Park, was shooting pool with friends in a room just off of the atrium.

"It's great... spacious," the college senior said. "Anything new is fun."

The school has already hosted a career fair at the new center and hopes to host more events for area chambers of commerce and non-profits, said Angela Harrington, assistant vice president of communication and external relations for the college.

"This provides a bigger, much more contemporary and modern facility," Harrington said, comparing it to the buildings it replaces.

Lori Payne, director of the academic support center, which is housed in the new building, described how they offer peer group tutoring, and teach students time management skills.

She walked into a room where, Payne noted, computers displayed some of the school's interior and graphic design programs that are housed at the new building.

"Since Berkeley is very technologically inclined, we have a lot of tutors and a lot of programs to better assist the students as far as computers are concerned," Payne said.

Construction already underway will continue at the campus into the fall semester with a project, Pinsky-Mauro expects will be complete by the winter term.

"The renaissance continues as the (old) library will be repurposed for our design center and gallery space for our design programs," she said.