Stockton, Rowan to get share of $180M in state grants

By Jonathan Lai, Staff Writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 29, 2016

New Jersey colleges and universities are receiving more than $180 million from the state for construction and renovation projects, the state announced Tuesday.

The state announced 35 projects it will fund at 32 schools across the state. The biggest beneficiary is Stockton University, which is getting $22 million for its planned Atlantic City campus.

The list of grants includes $6 million for renovation of buildings at Rowan University in Glassboro and $1 million for Rutgers-Camden to renovate two rowhouses for office space.

Rowan College at Gloucester County

Rowan received an additional nearly $10 million to build an incubator space on the campus of a planned "health sciences" venture it is developing with Rutgers-Camden. Camden County College was approved for $5.8 million for an additional space on that joint campus.

The community colleges in Burlington and Gloucester Counties are receiving $5.1 million and $4.5 million, respectively, for campus projects. The Rowan College at Gloucester County award is for the College Center by Garrison Architects of Bellmawr. It is a 1-story, 21,138 SF, masonry building that includes classrooms and laboratories and features a clock tower.

The list now goes to the Legislature. Lawmakers have 60 or 45 days to accept the projects, depending on the grant. If no action is taken, the grants are approved.

"I am very pleased to recommend the approval of 35 excellent projects," Rochelle Hendricks, secretary of higher education, said in a statement, "that will improve our campus facilities and enhance the education of many of the more than 400,000 students earning their degrees in New Jersey."

The money stems from a November 2012 referendum in which voters approved $750 million for capital projects at colleges and universities in the state. That money was pooled with other state sources to create a $1.3 billion pot for construction, renovation, and infrastructure improvements official said.

The first round of that money was distributed in 2013, with schools applying for more than 250 projects, ranging from construction of whole buildings to network upgrades and library renovations. The state ultimately funded 176 projects at 46 schools, though dozens of projects went unfunded.

Last fall, Hendricks' office sought applications for a second, much smaller round of funding, using leftover funds and money that had come back unspent from schools. It received 63 proposals from the 32 schools.

New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark was approved for $20 million in renovations to classrooms and lab space.

Stevens Institute of Technology, a private four-year college in Hoboken, is slated to receive $19.3 million to replace an aging building and parking lot with two buildings connected with a bridge. The buildings would host classrooms, labs, and other academic spaces.

With colleges in the state often at capacity, New Jersey has an annual brain drain of 30,000 high school graduates who leave the state to attend college elsewhere. Many of the students don't return.

The 2012 capital funding, the first state-backed funding for higher education construction in 25 years, was meant in part to help expand campus capacity.

"We have made a historic commitment to funding higher education in this state," Gov. Christie said in a statement Tuesday, "which is continued today with the award of a second round of grant funding to ensure that New Jersey's colleges and universities have some of the best facilities in the nation." s said


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