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The Long Island Catholic: New residence hall, student center help Molloy College grow

In the student center, a group of young women sat around tables laughing and studying while nearby a young man jammed on a guitar with some friends. In the nearby residence hall, brightly colored decorations touting autumn and Halloween hung from the walls and windows - typical scenes at Molloy College here this school year, since the new student center and the first residence hall opened in September.

The 150-bed residence hall houses students of all grade levels. Nikki Dellaporta, 18, a freshman from West Babylon, knew she wanted to come to Molloy but when she found out she would be able to live on campus, she was sold. Since she plays soccer for the college, living on campus is "a lot easier, because I know if I had to commute back home after practice each day, it would take so much time with traffic," she noted.

The Public Square"I love it," said Dellaporta. "Everyone here is really nice and friendly. If you come down to the lobby, there are always people in here." The residence hall staff plans activities for the students, such as a pumpkin-picking trip or a visit to Bayville Scream Park, "so you get to meet everyone. All my closest friends here now are people who live here."

Stephen Ostendorff, director of residence life, added, "The president (of Molloy College, Drew Bogner) hosted a pizza party here one night for the residents. Tonight the administrative assistants and staff members are hosting a home-cooked dinner night. We've done a ‘love your body' workshop, we've done a fitness and spirituality workshop, we're doing a safe Halloween program on Saturday. So (the residents) are just really getting active."

There are a lot of school-wide activities for the students, but they aren't confined to campus. "They have a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes into Rockville Centre, so I've taken it to go to CVS and stuff like that," said Dellaporta. "It's easy." The shuttles also take students to and from the Hempstead bus terminal and Roosevelt Field mall.

Because the school can now house students on campus, "we've expanded where we're able to get students from," including out-of-state and international students, said Jacquelyn Rath, assistant director of public relations.

Right next to the residence hall is the new Public Square, which features "a lot of things that are student focused and performance related," she noted. "That was really important to Dr. Bogner; it adds a new component to our students' education."

Students at the Public SquareEmbracing the performing arts and fine arts, the center features music classrooms with instruments for student use, an art gallery, and the Madison Theatre, the 550-seat performing arts center that will officially open Nov. 12. As a new center of student life on campus, the Public Square houses the bookstore and a coffee shop, study rooms, a librarian-staffed computer center, meeting rooms, and the offices of student groups such as the school's publications, student government, and campus ministry.

"It's nice now because we have so much more room for students to congregate, it's like each group is finding their little niche," said Rath. "We were starting to outgrow our facilities. We're up to 4,000 students, so we really needed it."

Molloy's administration hopes that the Public Square will be a place the larger surrounding community can make use of as well. "It is really not only for our students," she noted. "It's also for the external community as well, to be educated and take part in the arts."

As with anything new, "we've had our growing pains," said Ostendorff. "Some things don't work here, some things don't work there, but we've got a pretty quick response on fixing things. The students, they're making their mistakes. But we've had a million more positives than negatives."

"We've had to make some adjustments," Rath agreed. "Now we're having food service seven days a week. We've had to become used to having students on campus all the time. We've been learning a lot."

Overall, though, she added, "I think everyone's been really happy with how things are going."

Taken from the The Long Island Catholic