Groundbreaking is Cause for Celebration

By Myra Saturen
October 19, 2011

October 18, 2011, a warm, sunny afternoon, proved the perfect day for a joyous event -Dr. Art Scott groundbreaking for Northampton Community College's (NCC) new Monroe Campus.  "I've never seen so many happy smiles," said NCC President Arthur Scott, looking over at an exuberant tent-full of supporters, faculty and staff.

Conveniently located off Route 715, in Pocono Township, the full-service campus will include science and computer labs, meeting rooms, a library, child care center, food court and athletic fields.  It will accommodate 5,000 students as well as provide space for cultural events, community meetings, and Horizons for Youth programs for youngsters in grades K-12.  The old campus on Old Mill Road will be used for corporate training and adult continuing education programs.  The new facility will more than double the number of students who can attend  NCC Monroe.

The groundbreaking began with welcoming comments by NCC President Arthur Scott.  "It's been a long journey, 2,064 days since we closed on this land.  We talk to our students all the time about persevering.  We say that there will be bumps along the road, and that you have to keep your eye on the ball.  That's what we did."  The community will reap the benefits for years to come, he said, lauding the long-term view of all those who "stayed the course and saw the value of this."

Karl Stackhouse, chairman of the board of trustees, told the audience that "all of you here today who have an interest in expanding educational opportunity to those who will benefit from it are special and we appreciate...that you have supported our efforts in bringing a new community college campus to Monroe County," he said.  He thanked State Senators Lisa Boscola and Pat Browne, former State Senators Charles Lemond, Ray Musto and the late Jim Rhodes, Representatives Mario Scavello, Mike Carroll, Mike Piefer and former Congressman Paul Kanjorski.  He saluted the Honorable Robert Mellow for authoring the legislation leading to the groundbreaking, Chuck Leonard for passionately advocating for the new campus, and Joe Uliana and Paul Canevari for their guidance and counsel.  He also recognized the Honorable John Siptroth, who formerly served as a state representative.

Stackhouse went on to pay tribute to county commissioners past and present: Donna Asure, Suzanne McCool, Teresa Merli, and Janet Weidensaul. "All have supported our goal of bringing expanded educational opportunities to Monroe County," he said.

Following Stackhouse's address, Dr. Scott  announced the official start of  NCC's upcoming capital campaign, "Building Dreams and a Bright Future: Our Monroe Campus, Right Time, Right Place."  He introduced the campaign leadership team, which includes honorary chair Damian Braga of sanofi pasteur, Len Lavenda of sanofi pasteur, Steve Sheptak of the NCC Foundation Board, and Chuck Hannig, whom Scott called NCC's most involved and dedicated volunteer in Monroe County for more than 20 years.  A video highlighted Monroe students who have benefited from the College and outlined the expanded opportunities the new campus will offer future students.

The campaign aims to raise $5 million to complete the $72 million needed to build the new campus.  The campaign's leadership team has already raised $3,634,388 in a "silent phase." In the public phase, the leadership committee will strive to match the Commonwealth's contribution, which will provide the funds to complete and equip the new campus.  Scott emphasized the partnership NCC has with the citizens of Monroe County.

Chuck Hannig hailed the people who attended the groundbreaking as "the doers" of Monroe County.From left to right:  Len Lavenda, Ellyn Schindler, Karl Weiler, Kevin Hughes, Pat Hughes, Erik Rydstrom, and Brian Hughes He then revealed that early and generous gifts for the campaign had come from some of the County's leading philanthropists: Pat and Kevin Hughes, sanofi pasteur and the Weiler Family Foundation. He said that the main classroom building will be named in the Hughes's  honor. The third floor of the building will be named in honor of sanofi pasteur, and the first floor of the student life building will be named for the Weilers.

The crowd joined Hannig in applauding the Hughes, the Weilers, and the following representatives of sanofi Pasteur who were in the audience: Len Lavenda, Raymond Fitch, Ellyn Schindler, Erik Rydstrom, and Will Weissman.

Karl Weiler, the chairman of the Weiler Corporation, talked about the beginnings of the Monroe Campus in 1988 when there were only 92 students, compared to 2247 this fall.  Weiler described the College as a major training resource for developing the skill sets needed for businesses to be competitive.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Celisa Counterman spoke on behalf of the Monroe CampusCelisa Counterman faculty.  The Monroe County native was the first member of her family to attend college. After taking classes at the Monroe Campus, she went on to earn a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees before returning to teach at the College.

"I think I started college at the same time we moved into the old blouse factory.  There was little there...but I was allowed to figure out who I wanted to be.  My journey to Northampton isn't really all that different from that of my other colleagues. Our faculty come from a variety of states as far as Alaska to right here in our backyard.  When Jack Beamer hired me, it was not only that I was a resident of the county but also a former student of NCC.  He saw in me what I did not yet see in myself.  But that's the Northampton Way. We see the potential in our students, faculty and staff and enable that to come forth and grow."

Counterman described the sense of belonging and community spirit that pervade the College and thanked the many people who are making the new Monroe Campus possible.  She said that the Northampton Way will continue even stronger as a result.

Allison Klemm, an early childhood education major at the Monroe Campus, spoke about her experience.  "Our Monroe Campus is a home away from home for me, and it is my hope that this new campus will create the same feeling for future students.  The students, faculty and staff have become a family full of diversity, and by expanding our campus, we are taking the opportunity to expand our family."

Following Klemm's remarks, children from the Hannig Family Children's Center presented special giftsChuck Hannig with children from the Hannig Family Children's Center. to early donors to the capital campaign and to some of the community leaders who have worked hard to make the dream of a full-service community college in Monroe County possible. The children's paintings reflected their creativity and their imagined visions of a campus they may someday attend themselves.

Dr. Scott read commendations that Senator Robert Casey, Jr., delivered on the floor of  the U.S. Senate and that now are part of the Congressional Record:  "This undertaking will expand and improve educational opportunities for countless students for generations to come," a portion of the statement proclaimed.

Scott singled out for recognition Dean of the Monroe Campus Matthew Connell and NCC Vice-President Helene Whitaker: "They stayed the course, they really stepped up to the plate."  He invited the audience to envision the Monroe Campus ten years hence.  "Think of the number of lives you will affect, the transformations that will occur, the possibilities of this campus, which are limitless."

Guests at this celebratory event enjoyed food prepared by Sodexo and music performed by the trio Calliope.  Décor inside the tent mirrored the fall colors outside, with gourds, pumpkins and  tablecloths in autumnal colors.

The groundbreaking concluded with attendees, led by NCC trustees, shoveling earth to symbolize the new campus's beginnings.

View more photos from this event at Northampton Community College's Flickr gallery.

You can also read Professor Counterman's speech and the Congressional Record entry regarding the new campus in their entirety.

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