Progress in Pleasantville

In a few days we’ll cut the ribbon and officially open the expanded Kessel Student Center. Since we are rebuilding approximately half the campus, there will be more ribbon cutting ceremonies in the months ahead. Slowly but surely, student life and bustle—rather than construction—is becoming the most visible activity on campus.

I’ve recently toured the campus and it’s very exciting to see the construction sites shrink and our renewed campus take shape. The expanded Kessel Center has more room for student activities and meetings, as well as dining, and is once again teeming with student life. We still need to do some landscaping and, when the weather gets better, we will plant grass, shrubs and trees. By summer Kessel will look like a Pace postcard.

I’m also very excited that work on the Environmental Center is just about finished. Students are using the new classroom and we completed many of the site improvements last fall. All that’s left is to finish the new farmhouse, and we hope to have that completed soon.

Construction on Alumni Hall continues. The first of two new residence halls under construction, Alumni Hall will open for business in time for the fall semester. Work on the new athletic facilities is also progressing. The baseball field is ready for its new surface. Once the weather improves, we will put down a new artificial turf field for football and other sports. We are also putting the finishing touches on a new lecture hall in Willcox Hall. Students will begin using the new space next semester.

Other new facilities are already open. Students in our media arts and communications program started working on a new sound stage in Willcox last fall. We also replaced the old sculpture studio in Paton House with a new one in the Art Barn and added an additional classroom in Paton House. These new spaces also opened last semester.

The renewal of our Pleasantville campus has many advantages. Once construction of Alumni Hall is complete, we will relocate many students from Briarcliff to Pleasantville and all students will benefit from enhanced academic and social programs. We’re creating more green space for students to enjoy, and our new living learning communities in the residence halls will help us inject academics deeper into student life.

Most of all, however, our physical renewal in Pleasantville will lead to greater interest in, and growth of, our academic programs. We’ve seen it before. When we renovated the science labs in Pleasantville, enrollment in our science programs went up. When we created a new state-of-the-art home at 140 William Street in New York City for our performing arts program, enrollment jumped and our ability to recruit and retain high-quality faculty members also improved. We expect the same result in Pleasantville from this major project.

Former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” No doubt our new and improved facilities in Pleasantville will help shape students for many years to come.