Preakness Hall, State-of-the-Art Academic Facility on Campus, Officially Opens for Fall 2017 Semester

Preakness Hall

William Paterson University officially opened Preakness Hall – its second new academic facility in just over a year – at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 29, 2017, with Assemblyman Kevin Rooney and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey among the more than 100 people in attendance. The project is part of a long-range plan to modernize facilities in the academic core of the campus.

The 58,000-square-foot facility houses four state-of-the-art kinesiology laboratories, a phlebotomy room, 14 smart classrooms, a 90-seat auditorium, numerous small and large group study rooms, the Writing Center, and offices for the English and Philosophy departments’ faculty. After just over a year of construction, it opened for use at the start of the fall 2017 semester.

Preakness Ribbon Cutting

From left are WP English department chairperson Ian Marshall, student representative to the University Board of Trustees Andrew Massefski, Board of Trustees chairman Fred Gruel, University President Kathleen Waldron, Passaic County Historian Ed Smyk, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, and WP kinesiology chairperson Kathy Gill.

“We set out to create a space that, by incorporating modern design with the latest technology in higher education, will encourage interaction between students and faculty,” said University President Kathleen Waldron. “With spaces meant to accommodate our smaller class sizes, several rooms dedicated to group study, and additional, more functional offices for faculty, I am confident that Preakness Hall will positively impact our students’ academic experience for many years to come.”

Taking the place of the more than 50-year-old Hunziker Wing, Preakness Hall is rich with twenty-first century technology. The kinesiology labs are respectively tailored for the study and research of body composition, human performance, human motion, and motor control. Each classroom has a high-definition projector with a 133-inch projection screen, and many boast an additional 90-inch flat screen display. The group study lounges are equipped with wireless collaboration pods, meaning students no longer have to worry about carrying cables and adapters for their electronic devices. If they have a document or PowerPoint presentation on any such device, all they need to do is log onto campus WiFi in order to feed that information onto a large display for their peers.

“Even though the bones of this building date back to 1955, I think you will agree with me that it is now a thoroughly modern academic facility, which, like University Hall, will serve William Paterson students well for many generations to come,” Fred Gruel, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, told the crowd.

Both Preakness Hall and University Hall – which opened in the winter of 2016 – were partially funded by the State of New Jersey’s “Building Our Future” Bond Act. That same bond is off-setting the cost to rebuild another academic building on campus, Hunziker Hall, where construction has just begun and is slated for completion in summer 2018. That building will house additional smart classrooms and offices, group study rooms, a keyboard lab, a creative commons space, and the Black Box Theatre. 

“I see orange and black in my house every day,” Rooney announced at the ceremony, joking about how many William Paterson students and alumni come in and out of his Bergen County home. The assemblyman’s wife, Hayley, has been the University’s equestrian team coach since 2004. “It gives me a different insight into what the students feel about William Paterson. I get to ask those hard questions: ‘Are you learning? Do you love the experience?’ And I will tell you, each and every time I’ve asked those students … they’ve enjoyed this institution, this experience, and their ability to not only get a job when they leave, but the feeling that you, as educators, bring to them.”

“To bring a project in under budget, on time, in the State of New Jersey, is amazing,” Rooney added.