Schuyler building ‘Occupiable’ if NY approves $20 million request
A growing STEM college would have enough banked to eventually open doors in Downtown Albany should the state fork over $20 million this upcoming budget cycle.
University at Albany officials will lobby state lawmakers to make the Schuyler Building, a former public school sold five years ago, habitable for one department in the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences.
The UAlbany Government & Community Relations Office considers the $20 million request, along with $500,000 for the Center of Excellence in Atmospheric and Environmental Prediction and Innovation, as top university priorities this budget season.
If the request for CEAS goes through, labs, offices, and the dean’s suite will eventually move into the southern half of the building on the downtown campus facing Western Ave. after interior demolition.
As of now, the project’s timeline is still fuzzy.
“I don’t think there’s any way we could take $20 million and not push through to something occupiable at the end of it,” said Kim L. Boyer, dean of CEAS. “The question is, ‘How do we get there?’”
Last year’s request for the same amount fell short with $15 million provided for general campus projects, none earmarked for the Schuyler Building. CEAS did, however, ring in $4 million from an anonymous donor later that spring. Roughly $10 million has already been accumulated.
Should the state funnel support for renovation this year, it hasn’t been determined whether the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering or Computer Science Department would eventually move in first. For either, Boyer plans to move in an entire department at once.
“It’s important that you keep a department together, especially when they got to learn to work together, they’ve got a lot of things to do build their programs and so on,” said Boyer.
CEAS is currently divided across campus. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is located in the basement of the University Library. The Computer Science Department and Environmental and Sustainable Engineering Department are housed within the University Administration Building.
While departments remain scattered, CEAS continues to expand. Within the next five to seven years, the college is projected to lure in some 2,000 students.
University officials expect the growth of CEAS and the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity — both attracting new faculty and exceeding enrollment goals — to pump up university coffers. Stellar has said before that on-the-rise technology programs in both colleges would help stabilize funding elsewhere at UAlbany.
According to Kevin Wilcox, associate vice president and controller, at a UAlbany Finance & Administration leadership candidate forum, research grant funding can be gradual from the start.
“Any time you bring in new faculty, you have to build a school, you have to build a reputation,” said Wilcox.