SEAN SONNEMANN & JOSEPH V. CUSMANO
WEB EDITOR AND SENIOR WRITER
With approximately $43 million out of $45 million dollars raised, Manhattan College expects to complete fundraising efforts for the new student commons on campus by June of 2015.
“The building is basically paid for, we are just in the clean-up stage at this point,” Vice President for Advancement Thomas Mauriello said.
“We raised enough contributions to build the Kelly Commons without creating any stress on our operating budget, and that is all because of the generosity of our alumni.”
While the commons will not be officially dedicated until Oct. 15, it has been fully operational since this past August. Visitors may have noticed the recent installation of signs and plaques outside of doorways throughout the building. These signs are inscribed with the names of alumni and organizations that made significant donations to the fundraising campaign.
Most notable among these displays is the donor wall located by the elevator bank on the entrance floor of the building. This wall includes a breakdown of leading donors by dollar amounts.
“The final version comes in the spring. We still have this campaign running with this ‘get your name here’ kind of thing,” Mauriello said.
At the top of the list on the donor wall is a $10 million donation by Thomas O’Malley, former chairman of Manhattan College’s board of trustees. O’Malley’s gift to the construction of the commons was one of the largest contributions ever made in the history of the college.
As the leading donor for the commons, O’Malley also was given the opportunity to choose to formally name the new building after his 1963 classmate and former police commissioner of New York, Raymond Kelly. The name of the East Hill residence hall on campus was also recently changed to Lee Hall in order to honor O’Malley’s mother, Margaret Lee O’Malley.
Below O’Malley’s name on the donor wall is a contribution of over $1 million by Gourmet Dining, the current supplier of dining and catering services to the college.
“When you look at the negotiations with vendors, all vendors are expected to give to the college. It is something that they do,” Mauriello said.
The college frequently receives donations from vendors who have contracts with the school, both for special capital campaigns and routine fundraising efforts. Mauriello explained that it is a practice that is not only standard for the college, but also customary for any businesses in contractual agreements with nonprofit institutions.
“With anybody who has a business relationship with the college, we have an expectation that they are going to support our vision, that they are going to support our mission,” Mauriello said. “We don’t really enter into any big contracts without a clear understanding that, because we are a not-for-profit, we expect them to support our mission.”
In addition to O’Malley and Gourmet Dining, the list of notable donations includes $1 million from Verizon a gift between $500,000 and $1 million from Con Edison.
“Every name on that wall has a story,” Mauriello said.
The completion of the commons has been hailed by administration as the final stage of MC’s historical transition from a commuter college to being a primarily residential campus.
“The opening of the commons represents an exclamation point on the last 20 years of the college,” President Brennan O’Donnell said at the first senate meeting of the academic year.
Several other members of the MC community feel the building successfully unites north and south campus.
“I love the way the new commons connects our campus,” Jean Marie Beckerle, senior special education major said.
“I always felt that when I would occasionally have a class in Leo, no one ever looked familiar. With the commons, all parts of campus really feel ‘on campus.’”
Alumni were overwhelmingly the source of funding for the commons capital campaign. Meghan Marro is a recent graduate of the class of 2013 who still resides in Riverdale and has been back on campus to see the finished commons.
“I think Manhattan spent their money very well. The school needed a slight upgrade and the student center is the perfect spot where anybody can go,” Marro said.