WCC's Gateway Center opensWestchester Community College’s $40.5 million Gateway Center, which will address the educational needs of the county’s increasingly diverse population, is now open.   

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the environmentally friendly center took place Sept. 15 at the college’s main campus at 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla. It featured keynote remarks by Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the  New York State Education Department Board of Regents.

Westchester County contributed $14 million to the project.

County Executive Robert P. Astorino opened the program, saying, “Students will come here, because they want to learn about language and culture, develop top-notch skills to enter the workplace or start up their own businesses. This is a place where students will be encouraged to set a goal higher than they would have thought possible and be able to find all the pieces they need to get there.”

Construction of the Gateway Center began in 2007. It houses business, language, volunteer and international student programs, as well as the college’s English Language Institute and the Professional Development Center, which offers corporate training. The center is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, meeting stringent “green” certification standards.

The Gateway concept was grounded in the findings of a three-year study funded by a grant from the Hitachi Foundation, and conducted in partnership with Westchester Community College and the Westchester business community.

The 70,000 square-foot Gateway Center was designed by the internationally-renowned Polshek Partnership architectural firm, whose designs include the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock 

The Gateway Center is one of Westchester county’s most dramatic structures. This environmentally friendly “green” building boasts state-of-the-art classrooms, leading edge technology, innovative use of lighting, a spectacular tower and the extensive use of native plantings on the grounds. 

Since opening in 1946, WCC has been at the forefront of innovative education. It has grown from a small institution educating returning veterans to its current role as the county’s largest college with more than 20,000 students. For more than six decades, the institution has focused on education trends and has kept pace with the times.

As the county has become more diverse, so has the college’s student body. But never more so than in the past two decades, when there has been a tremendous influx of international residents and new citizens.

The Gateway Center is the college’s latest step in dealing with these demographic and workforce trends. The dramatic structure houses resources for both foreign-born and traditional students. It will offer contextualized ESL programs and learning communities and an Institution for Entrepreneurial Studies. Business programs leading to associate degrees and certificates will also be in the building in an environment which will lead toward easy access to resources for students.