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Roberts Wesleyan opens the new Golisano Community Engagement Center

The new Golisano Community Engagement Center at Roberts Wesleyan University in North Chili.
Roberts Wesleyan University
The new Golisano Community Engagement Center at Roberts Wesleyan University in North Chili.

Roberts Wesleyan University has opened a new building it hopes will bring together students, business leaders and others from the community, for both work and play.

The Golisano Community Engagement Center was first announced in 2019, and the COVID pandemic did somewhat delay the construction schedule at that university in North Chili.

The $13.9 million building, which was helped by a $7.5 million gift from philanthropist and Paychex founder Tom Golisano, officially opened on Monday.

The new facility will serve both as a student union building, which Roberts has not had before, and also a hub for community interaction.

Roberts Wesleyan president Deana Porterfield said the new building also has space for training and certificate programs, and she says that will help students get to know potential future employers.

“And then, when it’s time to apply for a position, especially those within business or maybe in some of the serving communities, by having those individuals on campus they know what it means to be a Roberts student, they have interfaced with our students, and our students have a comfortability to be able to reach out to those organizations,” said Porterfield.

Porterfield says the new engagement center will also provide a place for students to just hang out and get a real sense of community on the Roberts Wesleyan campus.

"This I believe will really bring a sense of community to our students that are here graduate, undergraduate, whether you're a commuter or residential, you now have a place that you know, you can go and find other students and colleagues in your journey while you're a student at Roberts,” Porterfield said.

Amenities in the new Engagement Center include inclusive areas for learning and recreational activity, a gaming lounge, and a grab-and-go style café.

The second floor houses offices along with a prayer chapel, commuter lounge and it also will be a workplace for Roberts Wesleyan’s training and certificate programs through its Community Institutes initiative which provides resources for area businesses and organizations.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.