Seton Hall University cut the ribbon on its newly renovated University Center on Monday night — an effort that saw upgrades to the building on both the inside and out.
The renovation of the 60-year-old building was undertaken in alignment with the university’s strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures, which seeks to provide students with “a premier, mission-centered engagement experience.”
The building received a top-to-bottom renovation that updated and increased functionality throughout, including upgraded lounges, student dining and the University Club.
The renovation also includes a new media studio, which will be used by Pirate TV, WSOU, Seton Hall Athletics and others, as well as a theater and event room, which was added to accommodate plays, concerts, lectures, gaming tournaments and additional student programming.
In addition to extensive interior renovations, the building’s exterior was dressed in cast stone and bronze glazing to match the architectural cues of other landmark structures on campus.
The University Center also is intended to inspire a fresh, visual conversation with the University Green through the addition of two informal outdoor performance/activity areas and spaces for outdoor dining.
Seton Hall President Joseph Nyre cut the ribbon after Mass and before the school’s annual Christmas tree lighting.
“We are doubly blessed this year as we gather together, in-person, to celebrate the joy that is Christmas and the reopening of our transformed University Center,” he said. “This building is the result of shared planning and collective action by the entire Seton Hall community, especially our alumni, whose generosity made the renovation possible.
“It is truly a gift to the students and future students of Seton Hall: a 21st century home for great minds.”
Monica Burnette, vice president of student services, said the building is a centerpiece of the campus.
“Designed to be inviting and architecturally stunning, the UC renovations have created a dynamic community gathering place,” she said. “The center will stand as a vibrant hub at the heart of Seton Hall, using interior and exterior spaces to bring us together in new and exciting ways.”
School officials said various aspects of the University Center will be named for significant members of the Seton Hall community.
The theater lobby (which will also function as an art gallery, student lounge and reception area) will be called “The O’Brien Family Gallery,” at the behest of benefactors Jim O’Brien ’82 and his wife Judy O’Brien, who announced in May that their family was donating $1 million to the project in honor of Jim’s late brother, Pat O’Brien, and his widow, Cathy O’Brien, who graduated as valedictorian of Seton Hall in 1992.
A dining-area addition, which was completed earlier in the construction process and now integrates seamlessly into the more recent renovations, will be renamed the Bishop Doughtery Dining Room at the request of the project’s benefactor, Helen Rados Lerner ’76 of Highland Beach, Florida.
Rados Lerner made an early gift of $1 million to remodel the space, which now has an overall seating capacity of more than 1,000 to accommodate the growing numbers of students.
In addition to structural and aesthetic improvements, the renovation created ADA-compliant access through entries at both main façades, allowing pedestrian traffic to go through the building to reach all areas of campus.
To nurture faith on campus more deeply, a new prayer room was added to the building and a cross set atop the building’s pinnacle.
“We are Catholic,” Vice President for Mission and Ministry the Rev. Colin Kay said. “Faith is at the heart of our identity and mission. In ways large and small, this building reflects our faith: our faith in God, our faith in one another and our faith in the difference we can make, together, in the world.”
The extensive renovation of the University Center is just one of many recent infrastructural updates at Seton Hall. Recent improvements include:
- The complete remodeling of Boland Hall South, one of the university’s oldest residence halls;
- The addition of the Boland Hall lobby, a 1,600-square-foot entrance and lounge that functions as a dynamic transitional space while improving the flow of pedestrian traffic and increasing ADA accessibility;
- The extensive refurbishing of Walsh Gymnasium;
- The renovation and updating of the Stillman School of Business Trading Room;
- The construction of Bethany Hall, which serves as a welcome center for both visitors and the university community, offering event space and meeting rooms.