At “The Campus Experience: New and Improved Spaces” on August 19, the third installment of the 2021 Students First: Community Conversations series, students were given a sneak peek at the upgrades that have been made, and continue to be made, to both the Long Island and New York City campuses.
Speaking with architecture student Julia Andor, Suzanne Musho, AIA, NCARB, New York Tech’s vice president for capital planning and facilities management and chief architect, noted that both campuses will be fully open for the fall semester and that students can expect to see many changes.
In fall 2020, the university established a campus experience committee after it completed its New York state reopening plan. The committee comprises students, faculty, and staff who meet regularly to discuss campus facilities along with what is going well and what is needed. And while the pandemic continues to make things challenging, Musho explained, the committee is committed to ensuring that the campuses have what is needed to keep the community safe as well as to provide students with a positive, enjoyable campus experience.
Health and Safety: Number One PriorityThe biggest challenge, according to Musho, is the implementation of the LEAD plan that was introduced in fall 2020. The four-point plan focuses on health and communication:
- L refers to enhanced access layout requirements for campus entry, including screening and daily health questionnaires, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); layouts for classrooms, public areas, and office spaces to meet physical distancing guidelines; and audio visual and information technology changes to support all potential teaching modalities. Facial coverings will be required throughout campus.
- E refers to equipment adjustments that allow handsfree operations of entries and frequently used facilities, such as restrooms. We also will incorporate adjustments to mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) equipment throughout campus to support healthy air quality. Signage on campus will clearly remind our community of responsible awareness of others.
- A refers to academic considerations, including scheduling adjustments and programming revisions to support a blended educational environment.
- D refers to the disinfection strategies. These strategies include frequent disinfecting through multiple methodologies, including the use of COVID-19-approved disinfectants, UV light where appropriate, electrostatic cleaners, and foggers. We also encourage frequent handwashing and provide hand disinfection stations at each building and in classrooms.
One major focus is on the air quality in all of the buildings. Musho said filters in every building have been replaced, and assured attendees that there is a rigid disinfection and cleaning protocol in place. Classrooms, hallways, and all shared spaces are cleaned at least three times a day. She also noted that all of the classrooms are Zoom capable and lecture-captured, so there are alternatives if students cannot attend class in person. Musho said in those situations, students should also speak to their professor and dean for proper direction.
With the guidance of Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Chief Medical Officer Brian Harper, M.D., M.P.H., and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jerry Balentine, D.O., the university will continue to assess if additional protocols are needed.
Focus on Sustainability
Musho also spoke about the university’s sustainability action plans. “We have a refocus on energy,” she said, noting that the university is focusing on water stewardship. Projects include a water treatment plant and a geothermal well system in Long Island, improving outdoor spaces on both campuses with outdoor wireless access so students can study or attend Zoom classes, an outdoor garden and a vegetable herb farm on the Long Island campus, and the introduction of a bike-share program.
“We’re trying to encourage a bike-friendly campus on both campuses,” said Musho. The goal is to have approximately 20 sharable bikes for use on the Long Island campus. They will be stationed at the Student Activities Center, where students can rent a bike. On the New York City campus, the school will increase the bike storage for students who ride their bicycles to school. Musho also noted that there are four CitiBike stations there and encouraged students to take advantage of them.
Several buildings and the campus grounds have also received a makeover, including the addition of new outdoor seating areas near Salten Hall, Education Hall, and the academic quad. “We wanted [students] to know how important their experience was to us,” said Musho.
On the Long Island campus, some of the upgrades include new classrooms, lounges, and reservable study rooms in Anna Rubin Hall; outdoor seating and reservable study rooms in Salten Hall; a new prayer and meditation room in Harry Schure Hall; a new eatery, Café Orso, in the Student Activities Center; and a new nursing simulation lab in Wisser Library. Serota Hall is undergoing a façade and plaza update, and the back of the building will feature a connection to the pond, providing a more enjoyable outdoor environment. “As we learn what students need and want, we continue to provide those spaces,” she said.
The New York City campus features a new lounge at 1855 Broadway (Edward Guiliano Global Center) as well as a small conference room for bookable space and exhibit space, providing students with an area to meet and make friends outside of class. There will also be big changes to the café in 1849 Broadway expected in the fall. At 16 W. 61st St., a new lounge area on the ground floor will also be used as an informal lecture space for evening events. And 26 W. 61st St. will feature updated student spaces, with a new interfaith prayer room and meditation space in development.
Musho informed attendees that many upgrades are still in progress but assured them many will be completed by the winter. “It’s hard to get all of those things to occur in such a short time,” she said, adding that because of the pandemic, construction and the supply chain is a bit slower than normal.
“The objective for New York Institute of Technology is to make the student experience one that you remember, and you receive the education that you need,” Musho said, encouraging students to “make sure you voice what you need and we’ll do the best we can to meet it.”
The Students First: Community Conversations series features discussions aimed at informing students about changes to be made at New York Tech during campus reopening and the support systems available to members of the New York Tech community. Tune in on Thursday, August 26, for the next discussion, “Health, Wellness & Reacclimating to Campus Post-COVID-19.”
View recordings of the Students First: Community Conversations series, including the question-and-answer component.