2350 Broad Hollow Rd.
Dr. Hubert Keen, President
What goes through a high school senior’s mind when they’re narrowing down their college choices and ultimately making a decision, the effects of which they will live with for four years? There are academic issues, tuition concerns, travel and commute logistics to work out—it’s far from a simple decision (the infamous Princeton Review list of party schools has to get factored in somewhere, after all).
But at the end of the day, what’s got to be sitting at the top of the criteria is: Will the school a student chooses be as relevant in four years time as it is the day they say “yes”? With today’s technology being old hat faster than ever, how can students be confident that the cutting-edge campus they are pledging thousands of dollars and years of their lives to will be just as ahead-of-the-curve next semester?
One way? Cranes. And dump trucks. And construction cones, mounds of dirt and lots of people in bright yellow hard hats.
Most students see construction being done on campus and scoff at it—the noise, the debris, the roped off areas. But it also means their college isn’t standing still. At Farmingdale State College, the only thing standing still is the buildings already sitting on the school’s campus, and that’s only because they’re cemented into the ground.
“It’d be nice to walk around on a completely renovated campus, but it’ll be years before we can [do that],” says Dr. Hubert Keen, president of Farmingdale State College.
The projects are numerous and include campus buildings, academic buildings, a student center, traffic routes, landscaping. Keen says they won’t be cheap—Farmingdale State College will be investing $180 million in its various projects over the next several years—but the results will further the College’s reputation as a state-of-the-art institution.
Keen himself grew up in Virginia and came to New York to take a faculty position at another SUNY school—SUNY Cortland. He moved up to being an academic dean and then spent some time working with the SUNY administrative system as a provost. Eventually, Keen accepted the position as Farmingdale State College’s president in January of 2007.
To cement its position as a higher education facility devoted to Long Island higher education, Farmingdale State College recently became kioli’s newest founding member, offering an academic voice to the organizations board of members.
And that voice is evolving. The College’s biggest project is a campus center. “It’s going to be a kind of gateway building to and from the campus,” says Keen. The center will be easily accessible by students on campus and coming from parking lots and bus stops. It will house food services, a book store, multi-function rooms and areas for students to gather. Keen hopes it will become a “center of activity outside the classroom.”
Two of the other massive projects Farmingdale State College is undertaking are a brand new academic building for the School of Business and a renovated library. The School of Business building seeks to unite the various departments of the school under one roof, as well as offer classroom space, study rooms and computer labs. The renovated library will bring together a number of services. Keen says that since so many of the resources traditionally held in a library on paper have gone digital, the updated library will bring that information to students in a more seamless way.
Buildings are only one half of the equation, though, and Farmingdale State College is working to broaden their student population, too: Keen and members of the College’s faculty will be visiting China to participate in a ceremony and forge agreements to exchange students and faculty.
After the earthquakes that ravaged China in May of 2008, the SUNY system took in 150 students from overseas, with 19 studying at Farmingdale State College. A year later, they returned to China. The ceremony is the concluding event in the SUNY/China 150 program.
Keen also wants to further strengthen the College’s ties to China and continue to bring students back and forth. The program adds to their current study abroad program, which sends students to Spain, Mexico and Italy.
“We know China will be anxious to send students. We teach the Chinese language, but it’s a little bit of a barrier for us,” he says. “Most Chinese professors speak pretty good English; classes are taught in English. We’re hopeful to get more of our students there.”
At the end of the day, Keen wants prospective students to know that Farmingdale State College has the things students often fly the coop for: Dozens of academic programs, a thriving student population and residential housing. And once a student decides the College is a fit, they’ll find everything they need.
“We want to recruit the students who find the academic programs and fit of this kind of [mid-sized] institution—this kind of campus—to their liking. Those are the students we want to attend, and once they do, we want to meet their academic needs here and on the campus socially.”