Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D., Caldwell Chair of the Board of Trustees Linda Luciano, Ed.D., MBA, President and CEO of NJM Insurance Group Mitchell Livingston and Corporate Giving Officer for NJM Patricia Hartpence. NJM was a benefactor for the lounge.
Caldwell University students were thrilled to attend the celebration of the opening of the new, state-of-the-art student lounge in the Mother Joseph Residence Hall on campus.
“It is very inviting,” said senior nursing major Samantha Guerra, noting that the space and the furniture are conducive to studying privately and meeting in larger groups.
“It is peaceful…whoever paid for this is definitely spoiling us,” said junior biology education major Carolynn Hidalgo.
Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D. and guests including benefactors, campus leaders, architects, contractors, builders, staff, faculty and students gathered May 4 for the celebration and ribbon cutting.
The new space includes a common room with comfortable seating, a study area with a see-through glass wall with large monitors, charging stations for devices, a butler’s pantry, and two bathrooms–one newly renovated and the other new and ADA compliant. There are Wi-Fi access points and integrated modular stations to accommodate multiple events.
The lounge also has beautiful arched windows since the area had been a chapel for over five decades until it was formally decommissioned in accordance with canon law in April 2019. Much of the sacred art was moved to an elegant, newly constructed chapel, which is more centrally located on campus.
“A well-designed campus lounge serves important functions,” said President Whelan at the opening. “It offers students a comfortable space in which to study, socialize and enjoy activities.” It is a place, he said, in which students can grow, learn and make important connections and memories. He thanked all who were involved in the project. “Remember the beautiful people who helped us get here.”
The lounge was made possible by generous donations from NJM Insurance Group and Ann Masterson Larue from the Class of 1969 and her husband John, for whom the inner Larue Lounge is named.
“Every time I come here there is something else going on. I wanted to be a part of it…we see this vibrant community” said Mrs. Larue, who spent her career at IBM and retired as a senior program manager. She credited her successful career “to Caldwell and my Dominican education…you are all fortunate to be here, students.”
NJM President and CEO Mitchell Livingston said the company was happy to partner with Caldwell on the project. “To be successful students need to dedicate time and attention to their studies,” and it helps to have a conducive environment in which to work. “The lounge’s bright and spacious design will help students achieve their goals in a comfortable environment.”
He commended the University for several of its recent accomplishments including adding a bachelor’s degree in business analytics. “From my perspective, talented individuals in this area may be the biggest need of any company seeking to truly understand the needs and preferences of its customers over the next decade.”
“This was a labor of love,” said Crystal Lopez, assistant dean of residence life and conduct who emceed the event and had worked with Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., former vice president for student life, on selecting the furniture.
Caldwell Dominican Sister Mary John Kearney, O.P., gave the blessing.
The project director was Caldwell’s Vice President of Administration and Operations, Sheila O’Rourke.
The contractor for the lounge was Fuscon Enterprises, Inc. and the architecture firm was Comito Associates.
Micah Chudkowski, a sophomore and resident assistant, said he was very excited that when he returns for his junior year he and other students will have the lounge where they can hold their planning groups and residence life meetings.
Kayla Moses, a resident assistant and psychology major, said she sees how the space is going to benefit students. She appreciates that the campus is continuing to be updated. “It is good to see the renovations.”
No celebration is complete without a cake!
Photos by Shreesa Shrestha and Matt Netter.