QUEENSBURY - For decades, area citizens, educators and business leaders have envisioned that Adirondack Community College would host hundreds of students pursuing four-year or Master's degrees.
This past week , a landmark event in achieving that dream was celebrated, as a new center for higher learning was christened at ACC.
Dozens of community leaders attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 22 for the Buckley Bryan Regional Higher Education Center, named after the Bolton resident who donated more than $1.5 million for the glass, brick and steel structure at the north end of the campus.
Far more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the building that will now be headquarters for students pursuing Bachelors- and Masters-level courses.
With a floorspace of 19,000 square feet, the $7.5 million building includes classrooms and offices dedicated to advanced courses. This is the first center of its kind of all of the state's community colleges.
Until this week, the ACC students now pursuing higher-education courses sponsored primarily by Plattsburgh State University and taught by its faculty attended classes scattered over ACC's Queensbury campus.
In the upcoming Spring semester, more than 350 ACC students will be enrolled in these higher education courses, alongside the 3,400 students enrolled in the college's associate degree and certificate programs.
J. Buckley Bryan said he was proud to have his name permanently emblazoned on the building that through the years will provide the opportunity of local higher education for thousands of local residents.
"This building is absolutely tremendous, and it's all very humbling to have my name on it," he said.
Buckley, an airline pilot, entrepreneur and maverick, took most of his courses and earned most all his degrees at ACC over the years. In recent years, he's taught courses in business management at ACC.
He said at the ceremony his gift was a way to pay the college back for his education.
ACC President Ronald Heacock praised not only Buckley but all those who worked together to line up money to get the facility built.
"This building was completed on time and under budget," he said, crediting state Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward for garnering state moneyfor its construction. "This is all about partnership."
He also praised Glens Falls National Ban, for committing an extra $50,000 the morning of the ceremony.
Bank President Tom Hoy said the Center would help attract new businesses and residents to the area.
"Availability of higher education is the key to economic development," he said.
Warren County Economic Development Corp President Len Fosbrook agreed.
"A highly trained workforce is vital in today's economy, and this gives us a leg up," he said. "It goes beyond just the building - the staff and faculty truly understands what the future holds."