Iona College will build a 63,000-square-foot facility for its School of Business following a $17.5 million donation from a trustee, the largest gift in the school’s history.
The school announced plans for the expansion on Oct. 31, in what college President Joseph E. Nyre called a “transformational project” for the private New Rochelle college.
The building will be the first academic hall constructed on the campus in two decades. The plan is to mix the old with the new, school officials said. The new building will incorporate the business school’s current home, the nearly 70-year-old Hagan Hall, and showcase its landmark, historic cupola. A large atrium in the building will offer a gathering and event space with views of the rest of the campus.
The plans for the new building include high-tech classrooms, case-study and breakout rooms, a business career center and integrated faculty and administrative offices. The LaPenta-Lynch Trading Floor, which the school opened in October 2011, will also be moved to the new facility.
The new structure will allow the school of business to increase enrollment in its graduate program, as well as hire more faculty, according to a college spokesperson.
The building will be funded in part by a donation from Robert V. LaPenta, an alumnus and trustee of the school. LaPenta donated $15 million to the college in November 2015 and then added another $2.5 million in a matching challenge with alumni. LaPenta, a founding general partner of Aston Capital Partners, a private investment firm in Stamford, was featured in The Wall Street Journal following his initial gift, in which he said the new building was “critically needed for the school.”
“The business school is really key to Iona,” LaPenta told the newspaper. But “we have an antiquated building, the rooms were not what was required to bring in top students and give them the proper educational experience.”
For its 75th anniversary last year, Iona College launched the Iona Forever initiative, with the goal of raising $150 million for improvements at the school. The plan calls for new residence halls, renovations and expansion of the school’s science facilities, an updated athletics complex, a performing arts center and the new business facility. The school opened a six-story residence hall in August, while the other projects are all at various stages of planning and fundraising.
The school has already raised close to $80 million toward its goal since the program’s launch in September 2015, according to Paul J. Sutera, senior vice president for advancement and external affairs at Iona College. Sutera added that the school has boosted its endowment from $52 million to more than $118 million and increased land assets by 30 percent in the five years since Nyre took over as president.
The college is working with the New York City-based international design and architectural firm Gensler to plan the new facility. The exact cost of the project in not yet known, a college spokesperson said. The college is still fundraising and seeking approvals from the city of New Rochelle, but aims for construction to start in the spring.
With construction expected to take 18 months, Iona College plans to open the building for the 2018-19 academic year.
The School of Business offers seven bachelor’s of business administration degrees, an MBA program and four master’s degree programs in finance and public accounting. The business school enrolled 1,153 students in its undergraduate programs and 352 in graduate programs this fall.
“We’ve had a really successful business school through our time as a college,” Sutera said. “And this opportunity will move that experience to new heights.”