Utica College unveils new $12.5M science center

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UTICA — Empire State Development Thursday announced the completion of Utica College’s new $12.5 million Gordon Science Center Annex, a 23,300-square-foot building that houses state-of-the-art laboratory and teaching spaces.

“It’s fitting that this new Science Center, made possible with the support from Empire State Development, opened its doors the same year we celebrate Utica College’s milestone 75th anniversary,” said Dr. Laura M. Casamento, Utica College president.

“There’s no better way to represent just how far we’ve come,” Casamento added. “Back in the late 1940s, it’s unlikely that even the most forward-thinking student could have imagined a campus facility like this one, with its cutting-edge tools and technology, and the limitless opportunities it provides.”

“Today, in these classrooms and labs, students have the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge for careers in science and medicine as well as the power to make discoveries that transform our world,” she said.

The Gordon Science Center Annex is located on the main Utica College campus. The Center and the Annex are connected to F. Eugene Romano Hall, the academic building that houses classrooms and laboratories for the upper level health professions courses.

By co-locating next to the existing science and allied health buildings, the Gordon Science Center Annex will become the on-campus hub of Utica College’s life and physical science and healthcare programs. The new teaching laboratories includes spaces for genetics and molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, animal physiology and animal behavior, and human anatomy and physiology. The annex also has a GIS computing laboratory and classroom, as well as an active-learning classroom space to integrate lecture and laboratory for physics and other science classes for non-majors. Other spaces include a new vivarium with two procedure rooms, four climate-controlled housing rooms, a microscopy room, a clean molecular lab, a cell culture lab, as well as other flexible laboratory spaces for faculty-student research. 

The Annex will support the college’s allied health professions programs, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and nursing, which are some of the College’s most popular courses.

The project was supported by a $1 million grant from Empire State Development, which will advance regional workforce development strategies by establishing a pipeline of well-trained professionals for in-demand healthcare industries.

“When we invest in our workforce, especially in industries that are in high demand throughout the state and the nation, we create economic prosperity for communities by providing a pipeline of skilled workers which attracts residents and businesses to the area,” said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. “Utica College’s Gordon Science Center Annex will provide the resources and training to develop our healthcare workforce in the Mohawk Valley, setting the stage for continued growth and success in the region.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there will be a shortage of 1.13 million nurses nationwide by 2024, and an estimated shortage of 26,560 physical therapists nationwide by 2027. Also, BLS estimates occupational therapist jobs will increase by 33.6% by 2024. All three professions have high turnover rate: between 17-19% for nurses, 16% for physical therapists, and nearly 35% for occupational therapists.

The new Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) Regional Medical Center, currently under construction, will be more than 700,000-square-feet facility with nearly 400 patient beds, and will provide expanded health care services across many of their current service lines. Two of MVHS’s most significant areas of need will be for qualified nursing and physical therapists, placing an even higher demand for these specialties. 

“I am pleased that the Utica College Gordon Science Annex will be training the next generation of skilled healthcare workers in the Mohawk Valley,” said state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo. “We have seen a high demand for nurses and other healthcare practitioners since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and being prepared for the future will keep the Mohawk Valley well placed for growth.”

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon said, “The expansion of this annex is crucial to meeting the needs of our future medical fields. Creating an academic, as well as, clinical experience for the students provides a state of the art approach to learning. I want to thank ESD and the Utica College leadership for their innovative and resourceful approach to meeting our needs.”

“The need for medical professionals in Oneida County and across this nation has never been greater,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “This has been made even more evident by the COVID-19 pandemic and the certainty that we will face similar crises in the future. With the enormous upgrade we are currently undergoing to our area healthcare in the form of MVHS’s new Wynn Hospital, this essential new training pipeline at Utica College couldn’t come at a better time. The Gordon Science Center Annex will prove to be an asset to this region for years to come, and I thank all involved for bringing it to fruition.”

City of Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, “Utica College is a tremendous asset to our community and the completion of the new Gordon Science Center Annex will provide state-of-the-art laboratory and teaching spaces to support Utica College’s extensive programs. This project could not have come to fruition without collaborative partnerships and investment from Empire State Development (ESD). I thank ESD for its continued support of substantive and transformational projects in the City of Utica.”

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