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Seven years of building projects surpass $65 million
Friday, March 17, 2006

President Dennis L. Hefner, center, is interviewed at the University Commons groundbreaking ceremony.
Over the past seven years, total construction at the SUNY Fredonia campus has exceeded $66.2 million, largely due to the tireless advocacy of President Dennis L. Hefner in the halls of state government buildings in Albany.

He has helped draw in $32.1 million for academic construction, $31.5 million for residence hall and auxiliary service projects and $2.6 million towards roadways and parking lots.

The largest project currently underway is the $23 million erection of University Commons, the addition of a new residence hall onto an existing dining hall. The Faculty Student Association announced this winter that it made a deal with Starbucks to have a full restaurant in the facility, adjacent to the University’s bookstore.

President Dennis Hefner has been committed to attracting capital projects to the SUNY Fredonia campus since his arrival in 1996. “I’m not finished yet,” he said recently. “There are still a couple of items on my wish list.” He is known on campus for his unflagging optimism, even in the toughest of budget times.

In the next five years, he is anticipating capital construction to top $48 million, including $22 million for a new satellite boiler system, $5.5 million for improvements at Rockefeller Arts Center, and $3 million for a high-technology small business incubator proposed for construction in Dunkirk, NY. The incubator project came New York State in this year’s state budget through the efforts of Assemblyman William Parment, the late Sen. Pat McGee, and Sen. Cathy Young.

“The High Technology Incubator will support start-up companies needing high technology infrastructure to operate, but more importantly, for entrepreneurs who need business start-up mentoring to get their ideas and businesses up and running,” President Hefner said. “Our intention is to provide opportunities for our own graduates as well as other entrepreneurs in or outside the area who want to apply a technology focus to any business or service. We will advertise the facility nationally.”

Meanwhile, while University Commons will be approaching its opening date set to take place by the end of the summer, another project will be just beginning in the school’s Ring Road outdoor varsity athletic fields. This spring, ground will be broken for the first phase of a $3.3 million project to upgrade the soccer facilities with a new natural grass playing field, an artificial turf field, a new stadium with bleacher seating for 1,500 spectators, lights for night games and enhanced drainage.

“The business climate between SUNY Fredonia and regional contractors is a healthy one,” Vice President for Administration Tracy S. Bennett said. He sponsors an honorary luncheon each fall as a way of saying thanks to the dozens of firms and hundreds of business men and women who undertake construction projects on campus each year. Since 2001, he has been presenting an annual “Contractor of the Year Award” to recognize outstanding workmanship, good relations, timely, and efficient work. Past recipients have included Habiterra Design Group (2004) of Jamestown and S. St. George Enterprises (2003) of Fredonia.

Over 120 companies worked at SUNY Fredonia during the 2005 construction season, including 43 from Chautauqua County and almost 100 from Western New York. Thirty-four firms served SUNY Fredonia for the first time.

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State University of New York at Fredonia