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August 28, 2008

School Spirit Flows at Grand Entry Plaza Opening

UAlbany students walk through the spray of the fountains at the new Entry Plaza.

UAlbany students walk through the spray of the fountains at the new Entry Plaza. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

At a ceremony Aug. 26 marked by school spirit and pride in the University at Albany, water cascaded from the new fountains of the new $4 million Grand Entry Plaza.

Students, faculty and staff sang the words to "Purple and Gold," the Albany Fight Song, along with the a cappella group, The Earthtones.

The ceremony took place under a cloudless blue sky, highlighting the new fountains and green space that can be seen from across Washington Avenue. Interim President George M. Philip said the new entrance plaza is "an important gateway" to the University at Albany, "a place where we put the world within reach for 18,000 students."

Philip introduced Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, who helped the University secure $25 million in state funding in 2006 for capital projects, including the entrance plaza. Canestrari noted that Assemblymen Jack McEneny, Tim Gordon, and he have secured another $5 million for capital improvements at UAlbany, in spite of state budget cuts in recent months.

Recognizing the need to invest in the University's infrastructure, Canestrari added, "The education of our young people is the future of our state."

The new Entry Plaza at the University at Albany.

The new Entry Plaza at the University at Albany. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

McEneny alluded to the need to keep Stone's vision for the University alive, and he added, "This University is critical to the people of the state of New York." He continued, "The heart of the University is the undergraduate university," attended by more than 11,000 students. "This is our core," he said, noting the University strengthens its students for leadership roles in life.

Gordon summed up the celebratory mood by noting he likes the fight song, even though he graduated from SUNY Brockport. Quoting the last few words of the song, he said, "The State of New York sends up its cheer to you -- Let's go, Albany!"

Some students attended just to see what it was all about. Genny Faist, a senior with a double major in urban planning and psychology, and her brother Ben, a freshman who is undeclared, said they heard about the event by way of an e-mail invitation from Interim President Philip that went out to the University community. Other students attended as well to sing along, sample the free ice cream and celebrate UAlbany.

The internationally renowned landscape architectural firm, Thomas Balsley Associates of New York City, designed the plaza. Balsley, who spoke at the opening, said the design of the fountains and benches is intended "to humanize this great entrance plaza" while respecting the modernist architecture of Edward Durell Stone, who designed the main campus in the 1960s. "It is our hope that it will withstand the test of time," he said.


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