D’Angelo Center gets University’s blessing

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During a blessing and dedication ceremony of the new D’Angelo Center Oct.4, University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington said the construction of the new five-story, $77 million building now gives the University all the facilities it needs to “better serve our students the way they need to be served.”

“Today, we complete that plan,” he said during the ceremony. “Today, that plan comes to fruition and this campus is now transformed.

“The new St. John’s that we dreamed of is a reality,” he added.

Final touches are being made to prepare the D’Angelo Center for occupancy after Thanksgiving, according to St. John’s design and construction officials.

The creation of the structure, which has yet to open, marks the ending stages of the University’s master plan, originally approved in 1996, Rev. Harrington said.

This was a plan developed to convert the Queens campus from its origins as a commuter-only school into one that could handle and support resident students.

Over the years, the master plan has lead to the construction of seven on-campus residence halls along with the Townhouses and three other off-campus residence halls, Montgoris Dining Hall, athletic facilities such as Taffner Fieldhouse, St. Thomas Moore Church and other renovations to pre-existing buildings.

The D’Angelo Center, located next to Sullivan Hall, hosts 14 additional classrooms, a central and recreational lounge area for students, new offices for student organizations, a dining cafeteria and Starbucks cafe.

The building is planned to replace the current University Center as one of the main centers of on-campus activity.

Board of Trustee members and St. John’s alumni, Peter and Peg D’Angelo, were also on hand to witness the

unveiling of the building named in their honor.

During his speech, Peter D’Angelo said he was still getting used to seeing something bear his name.

“Until now, I only thought my name was going to be engraved in stone one time, and I wasn’t looking forward to it,” he said. “St. John’s has undergone more than a decade-long transformation from a commuter school to a world-class residential school and this building is another step in that process.”

His wife said the couple is proud they have left a lasting mark on the University.

“Peter and I are humbled by this tribute but we are also pleased by the excitement the new center had generated on campus,” she said.

After the remarks, Rev. Harrington and Rev. Alfonso Cabezas, C.M., Bishop emeritus of Villavicencio, Colombia, blessed the building and the St. John’s community was invited to tour the facility.

After the ceremony, Rev. James Maher, vice president of

Student Affairs, said touring the building left him very impressed.

“It’s a majestic, dignified space for our students,” he said. “I think so many of our students come from such challenging circumstances and it’s a wonderful space that really creates a home and a dignified space to live together and learn together and grow together.”

Dr. Julia Upton, university provost, said she has seen St. John’s make great strides since the master plan was first approved 13 years ago.

“On that day, it was only about the buildings,” she said. “But to live through those years, it has really been a transformation of this campus.”

“I don’t think I could have imagined how much the addition of these new buildings would change and shape us.”

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