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A Transformed Manhattanville Ready For Freshmen

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Manhattanville College has undergone a major transformation, and President Jon Strauss hopes the renovations will help improve a low freshman-year retention rate.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of change here this summer,” Strauss said while overlooking the grounds from his Reid Hall office. “We had a whole raft of things come together. Last summer we started a project – it was funded by the trustees, who invested $4.5 million in upgrading these 60-year-old buildings.”

In addition to the trustees’ investment, an anonymous local foundation gave $5 million to the Purchase-based college, which has also helped enhance the campus.

The windows, bathrooms and some floors of the residence halls, academic buildings and library have all been upgraded, which led Strauss to say, “They look better than they did.” Walkways were expanded and improved, and work was done on roadways as well.

Instead of having important academic resources scattered throughout campus, Strauss said, the library has undergone major changes and now houses the academic resource center, writing program, tutoring program and disability services. The campus quad, student game room, commuter lounge and cafeteria were all transformed as well, Strauss said. Many classrooms now have computer projections on large screens and writing tablet projections as well as wireless Internet access throughout most of the campus.

“Of course with these investments, we’re looking to significantly improve the spirit of campus and excitement,” said Strauss, who took over as interim president of Manhattanville in July 2011 and recently agreed to serve two more years. “When the kids come back, they’re going to see major change – it’ll be fun.”

The 72-year-old Strauss, who said he probably will retire once his Manhattanville contract is completed, is enjoying his time as president and is proud of the 1,500 students.

“Students leave here with literally a lifetime commitment to their communities,” he said while talking about Manhattanville’s dedication to education and service. “Not only do students volunteer because they think it’s cool, we have a whole department that creates volunteer opportunities and links the students with them. Two years ago, we did more than 30,000 hours of service, which is a lot of hours.”

With 15 percent of the student body being international, Strauss likened it to a “small United Nations” and said, “It’s really quite remarkable.”

“We should count the number of languages that are spoken here on campus,” he said. He added that when he works out in the campus fitness center, he hears languages that he had never heard before.

Strauss was quick to point out the internship opportunities that corporations surrounding Manhattanville are able to offer, including MasterCard, PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley and several in New York City. Manhattanville has an internship program and a good relationship with those companies, Strauss said. He pointed out that Warda Khan, who graduated in 2012 summa cum laude with a 3.98 grade point average, is currently working at MasterCard.

He hopes the renovations along with the service, diversity and internship opportunities will provide an improved Manhattanville experience for incoming freshmen. Those 589 new students arrive Aug. 24 and 25.

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