By, Angelina Persaud, Staff Writer
The formal dedication of the Patricia and Cornelius J. Higgins ‘62 Engineering and Science Center marked a significant achievement in alumni contributions and a revitalization in campus life to the Manhattan College community.
The original plans for the science and engineering center were created in 2015 and had undergone extensive research and consultation in order to officially come to fruition.
“Planning for the Higgins Center grew out of a comprehensive facilities Master Plan undertaken in consultation with the architectural firm Perkins-Eastman,” President Brennan O’Donnell wrote in an email to The Quadrangle.
He also stated that the construction plan was not limited to the newly designed building but also included updating existing structures on the south campus.
“In addition to the Higgins Center, the plan recommended major renovations of existing Science and Engineering facilities, including the renovations done over the past several years in Leo Hall,” O’Donnell wrote.
In the spring of 2018, the plans for a state of the art learning facility had officially been set in motion.
The center was intended to support the modernization of facilities on campus and provide students with an enriching experience in their coursework.
“The building was designed to serve all of our students—not only those majoring in Science and Engineering–providing state-of-the art science labs and engineering project space, as well as student study and lounge space for anyone spending time on the south campus,” O’Donnell wrote.
Finally in 2021, the three story building with its grand atrium was completed and opened for student use the following semester. It contained a total of 14 highly modern laboratories as well as study spaces and a student lounge.
The formal dedication ceremony for the center took place on Oct 21 to honor the namesakes of the building: Patricia Higgins Ph.D and Cornelius Higgins Ph.D ‘62.
“Opening a new building is a major accomplishment for the community and a cause for celebration. It’s an enormous project involving many people over the course of several years. The dedication also, of course, gave us the opportunity to recognize and thank the Higgins’s and all of the generous people who contributed financially to the project,” O’Donnell wrote.
The Higgins’ have had a very dynamic past with the MC community, which includes the basis of how they met as well as their decision to become alumni donors.
Cornelius Higgins received a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1962 at Manhattan College and went on to graduate school at the Air Force Institute in Dayton, Ohio; he earned a master of science in aeronautics in 1964.
He would meet his future wife Patricia during his junior year on a blind date arranged by their friends. The couple celebrated their 55 wedding anniversary in September of this year.
Patricia earned a diploma in nursing from the Bellevue and Mills School of Nursing in 1963 and went on to earn a bachelor of science in health education in 1975. She also earned a bachelor of science in nursing in 1978 from the University of Arizona as well as her Ph.D from the University of New Mexico in 1984.
Higgins emphasized the initial decision to construct a facility that would serve the students and allow them to fully experience their coursework in a dynamic environment.
“Engineering and science teaching, laboratory and research facilities must keep pace with state of the art teaching and research standards. A new, modern facility will also enhance the experience of current students, as well as attract new students to Manhattan’s programs,” Higgins said.
“The building provides state-of-the-art laboratories, as well as space for student and faculty research and project collaboration. The design reflects the engineering and science disciplines, through the physical expression of the structure and the mechanical and electrical systems. The building itself seems to provide a pleasant and encouraging experience for students as a result of the most modern equipment and bright open space.”
Years after planning, consulting, and construction were completed, Higgins reflected on the feeling of being able to cut the green ribbon with Patricia to formally open the building.
“My wife and I are proud to have our names associated with the new Engineering and Science Center. We are both members of the first of our generation to go to college. I credit my Manhattan education as a great contributor to my success in life. We wanted future generations of Manhattan student’s to have the best college facilities and experience possible,” Higgins said.
Margaret Pappas, a freshman mechanical engineering major, gave her insight on the Higgins building and how it’s impacted her experience at MC.
“I have had a great experience using the technology in the lab. Everything is fairly new and provides accurate results when experiments are being performed. I think anyone who is wishing to pursue STEM will benefit greatly from Higgins. The study space and labs are up-to-date with today’s standards and the atmosphere is amazing for anyone who needs a place to be productive,” Pappas said.
Higgins also highlighted the essence of the college’s Lasallian mission and how it continuously contributes to the success of its graduates while providing a worthy foundation for their futures.
“I want to emphasize that excellence in executing Manhattan College’s Catholic Lasallian mission and excellence in the teaching of engineering and science is not primarily dependent on facilities,” Higgins said.
“The programs, the caring environment, the excellence and dedication of the leadership, faculty, and staff, are the essential keys to a great education in any discipline. Manhattan provided those keys then and does today.”