TOMS RIVER – Ocean County College officials unveiled the newly renovated instructional building recently.
The ribbon cutting to celebrate the reopening of the building was held July 26, with OCC President Jon H. Larson, Board of Trustees Chair Carl Van Thulin, and Buildings and Grounds Chair Linda L. Novak offering comments.
Freeholder John C. Bartlett, who is liaison to the college, was scheduled but unable to attend.
Constructed in 1965, the original three-story 62,000-square-foot instructional building was one of the first five buildings on the campus, holding 18 classrooms, 20 labs and office space for 34. (The other original campus buildings are the library, the gymnasium, the college center, and the lecture hall.) It was the only classroom building on campus at that time, when it opened to students in 1967. The heating plant for the entire campus was housed in that original building.
“When I first came to town, my first meeting with John Bartlett, we discussed renovating this building,” Larson said. “That was in 2000. It only took us 18 years to get here, but by gosh, we are here now.”
Renovation plans for the building were initiated in 2013. Renovations took 16 months to complete.
The building will be open for use for the fall 2018 semester. Classes begin Sept. 5.
The interior was stripped down to the walls, floors and roof. The renovation includes: new heating, cooling and electrical systems; modern bathrooms; new elevator; new security system; new 3,000-square-foot atrium; 24 new classrooms with modernized AV systems; three new engineering labs; new 110-seat lecture hall; three new student lounges; and office space for 38.
Sara Winchester, OCC executive vice president of Finance & Administration, said via email the total cost of the renovation of the instructional building was approximately $14 million. Funding was provided by the New Jersey State Higher Education Capital Facilities Fund (GO Bond) and the County of Ocean.
The heating system has been relocated to a new, centralized plant.
“It’s been converted into a beautiful and very high-tech building,” Larson said.
The centerpiece, according to Jan Kirsten, executive director of college relations, is the new student success tutoring center, housed in the building’s second floor.
Of the whole project, Kirsten said, “This has been a labor of love for everybody involved. …The building, all three levels, it is spectacular.”
And, there’s another construction project on campus.
“The Ocean County Vocational Technical School Performing Arts Academy (PAA) High School building is currently under construction on the OCC campus,” Winchester explained. “The PAA is a four-year public high school designed to provide performing arts curricula focused in dance, vocal music, and acting, along with a college preparatory academic program. In partnership with OCC, the new building will allow the Ocean County Vocational Technical School to offer an Early College Program. PAA high school students will have the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time. Ocean County College students will have the benefit of using the unique facility and the PAA students will have access to the entire campus. This project was made possible through a unique funding model that includes support from the County of Ocean, the State of New Jersey, and The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation.”