|October 19, 1999|
Union College/City of Schenectady dedicate community center in honor of Union alum
Schenectady, N.Y. (Oct. 19, 1999) - Union College and the City of Schenectady announced today plans to allocate the majority of a $1 million gift from a local College alumnus toward the establishment of a community center within the College Park neighborhood at 257 Park Place.
The facility will be called the Ralph and Marjorie Kenney Center, in memory of Ralph Kenney, a 1929 Union graduate. In June, Marjorie Kenney of Delmar donated $1 million to the College, with the understanding that the funds benefit Union and the City of Schenectady. The donation was presented to Union President Roger H. Hull during the 1999 Schenectady 2000 annual gala.
"The Ralph and Marjorie Kenney Center will play a vital role in the revitalization of the College Park neighborhood," Hull said. "It's wonderful to have the spouse of a Union alum who shares my view that, whether individually or institutionally, we all have an obligation to contribute to make Schenectady a better place to live. This facility, and in a much broader sense, the US Initiative, are tremendous assets for both the City and Union."
The Kenney Center, which is scheduled for completion by January 2000, will feature health and wellness workshops sponsored by Ellis and St. Clare's hospitals; Schenectady-based Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region will provide programs for young women.
A primary feature of the new facility will be the Homework Center and Skills Development Program. Staffed by Union students, staff and GE Elfun Society volunteers, the homework program links Union student mentors with children from the Van Corlaer Elementary School to help them prepare for the New York State Pupil Assessment Tests, and encourage them to development solid study and learning skills. To date, about 20 Union students have completed a mentor-training program; they will begin working with children from the College Park neighborhood next week at a temporary location at Union. The Center has received an $8,200 grant from Campus Compact, which is funded by the GE Fund, to support the mentoring program.
Of the $1 million gift, about $600,000 will be used to renovate, furnish and equip, as well as to establish a maintenance endowment for the facility. Remaining funds will offset costs of renovations to and the purchase of office equipment and furnishings for the Union satellite Safety and Security Office at 712 Huron St.
The satellite office, which will also be completed in January, will serve as a post for the College's safety program and recently implemented bike patrol. Officers from the City of Schenectady's bike patrol will also use the facility during neighborhood patrols. Finally, the office will also be a "safe space" for students waiting to board the Union College shuttle service.
The Kenney gift adds to donations from Fleet Financial Group to the Community Center; Fleet gifts to the Center currently total $35,000.
The US Initiative, announced last October, is the College's $10 million community revitalization effort for the College Park neighborhood. The initiative is designed to both address the College's needs for housing and to stimulate homeownership in the area. The Initiative includes a number of incentives for both homeowners and College employees, such as $1 million annually in tuition scholarships at Union for children of eligible homeowners, special mortgage programs, and the establishment of a neighborhood association.
Since October 1998, Union has acquired 40 homes in the US Initiative area, most of which are being renovated for use as student and faculty residences. The US Initiative area is defined by Seward Place, Union Street, and Nott Street.