ITHACA, N.Y.—The state of New York has announced a pair of grants for Ithaca College and Cornell University yesterday as part of a $57.2 million series of awards to support infrastructure improvements at 35 colleges across the state.

The awards are part of the state’s “Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program,” also known as “HECap,” which seeks to assist non-profit private schools with state funds to support renovation and construction of new laboratory and research spaces, the purchase of new instructional technology aids and scientific equipment, and related capital investments and improvements. The funding was formally awarded by the program’s HECap oversight board on March 12th.

Ithaca College will receive $1,580,627 from the state as part of a more focused initiative to support health care education programs by modernizing facilities and enhancing student learning while supporting economic development. More explicitly, the money is being awarded to Ithaca College to support the development of its new Physician Assistant two-year program, to be located in Downtown Ithaca in the Rothschild Building. Twenty units in “The Ithacan” apartment tower to begin construction next door later this spring will be set aside at below-market rental rates to provide housing for students enrolled in the program (another twenty units will be set aside as below-market rental housing to serve the wider Ithaca market). The new building and newly renovated academic program space are expected to open their doors in late summer 2022.

The award is not without a financial commitment on Ithaca College’s part: per the announcement, “(c)ampuses that receive grants are required to invest at least $3 of their own funds for every $1 of state funds they receive,” meaning that Ithaca College is paying at least $4,741,881 to build out and furnish the space for the Downtown Ithaca-based Physician Assistant program. The college has experienced significant financial hardship in recent years as a result of low enrollment, culminating in the layoff of 130 faculty members this past fall.

Over on East Hill, Cornell University was $639,437 by New York State for “renovations to expand the Computing Information Sciences program”. The program, which includes the Computer Science, Information Science and Statistics majors, is based out of Gates Hall on Cornell’s campus.

According to the press release, the HECap grants were awarded by the HECap Board as the result of a competitive application process. The three-member HECap Board includes one member chosen by the Speaker of the State Assembly, one member chosen by the Temporary President of the State Senate, and a third member chosen by the Governor.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.