SCCC Academic Center groundbreaking
NEWTON. On Monday SCCC


Left to right: Eric Brophy, New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority executive director, Dr. Mercedes Aguirre Batty, SCCC vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer, Sylvia Petillo, Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders deputy director, Jon Connolly, SCCC president, Jerry Scanlan, SCCC Board of Trustees vice chairman, Bill Curcio, SCCC Board of Trustees chairman. (Photos by Laurie Gordon)

By Laurie Gordon
The groundbreaking for the Sussex County Community College (SCCC) Academic Center was held on Monday. t will be an addition to the Performing Arts Center and is expected to be completed for the 2020 spring semester.
“Our students will have the opportunity to work with modern, tech equipment and experience what they will once they graduate and go into the 'real world,” said SCCC's president, Jon Connolly. “Flexible technology will be infused into this new space.”
The building will combine marker space, enhanced technology, tiered classrooms and a student center. Paying due homage to the arts, it will also have the ability to morph into a dinner theater setting. The 13,000-square-foot, two-story Academic Center will include four classrooms, a lecture hall with room for about 60 students and will be connected to the Performing Arts Center, which was constructed in 2007.
“It's taken a lot of hard work and five to six years to get to this point,” said William P. Curcio, the chairman of SCCC's board of trustees.
One of the guiding forces behind the building coming to fruition is Dr. Mercedes Aguirre Batty, vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer.
"We're going to go where no one here has gone because we have had a great group of people working together, and we'll continue to work together,” she said. “You've heard of a wow factor, well this is going to be the in classroom wow factor.”
Dr. Connolly explained that the building is being made possible a General Obligation Bond, specifically the Building our Future Bond Act.
“We know that community colleges provide an important gateway,” said Eric D. Brophy, Executive Director o the New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority. “"With today's groundbreaking, Sussex continues its commitment to providing an enriching learning environment for all of its students."
“It took a lot of planning and a lot of turns,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Sylvia Petillo. “[This addition] will not only change the educational opportunities for students but for the county as a whole.”
Construction of the Academic Center will commence within the next two to three weeks and it's anticipated end date is January, 2020.
Though the ground was too impacted to officially dig, a pile of dirt was contrived for the ceremony and with all due pomp and circumstance, Dr. Connolly handed out shovels and then, saying “We have to look particularly spiffy,” handed each digger an official, bright yellow hard hat.
The soil was turned over and the start of something magnanimous at Sussex County Community College officially began.