President Jennifer J. Raab gathered an assembly of planners, administrators, and collaborators to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated 6th and 7th floors of the Leon and Tony Cooperman Library, new spaces that will transform the library experience for Hunter College students and faculty. This project, initiated in 2012 thanks to a 5 million dollar gift from Larry Silverstein—a surprise in honor of his wife, Klara, ’54, MA ’56—represents a new vision for the library experience at Hunter. At the ribbon cutting, Klara Silverstein recalled the libraries of her youth as silent spaces, filled with long desks. She and her peers sat in rows with bowed heads and if one of them whispered to another, a head librarian would swoop down with a reprimand. But today the library is a center for student life, a hub for electronic and intellectual recharging, and a multimedia spaces for group working and thinking. Students come to the library for more than books—they come for guidance, for technological materials, for inspiration. Now, with the creation of the Klara and Larry Silverstein Student Success Center on the 7th floor, and the 6th floor’s new dedicated education library and common spaces, students can look to the library for more resources than ever before.
“We have spent the last several years working on multiple projects that will transform our library, bringing it to the leading edge of modern library design. It is with great pleasure that today we cut the ribbon on the third phase of our renovation program, The Silverstein Student Success Center,” said President Raab. “This new space represents Hunter’s deep commitment to its core mission, enabling our students to succeed—at Hunter and post-graduation. Here students will have access to tutoring in math, science and writing; pre-professional support and advising; technology-based study aids; and spaces conducive to gathering with their peers to study and socialize. With the completion of this latest phase, the Hunter College library is on track to become an example for urban campuses nationwide.”
Originally built more than 30 years ago to serve 9,000 students, the library now sees traffic from more than 20,000, and its necessity is amplified. The new 7th floor has been reconceived to create the Silverstein Student Success Center, brings together previously disparate entities—pre-professional advising center, and learning centers—to create one nexus for student success. The Dolciani Mathematics Learning Center, which provides tutoring services to students across disciplines who are seeking skill enhancement, is steps away from the new Skirball Science Learning Center. The Rockowitz Writing Learning Center, which helps the entire Hunter community hone their writing skills, is a straight line from the Pre-Law Advising, Pre-Business, and Pre-Health advising centers, places where students can seek guidance from advisors and faculty about the next steps in their academic and professional careers – and will certainly be using those writing skills on their applications. And all the advising programs share a state of the art conference room with the new Office of Prestigious Scholarships, creating easy flow between the programs, and giving the advising team greater ability to collaborate in serving students.
“This library has seen a lot of firsts for me,” said Joy Nuga ’17, an economics major and vice-chair of the College Senate. It’s where she made her first friends, got her first inspirations for her future, and, importantly, the first place she found on campus where she could nap while finishing her paper about cybersecurity. A Macaulay Honors student, she is delighted that the Macaulay program is receiving a new dedicated space as well, the Dorothy Kryger Center on the 6th floor. Says Lev Svirdov, Director of the Macaulay Honors Program, “It is a space designed for the 21st century and will prepare our students to expect the very best of what Hunter College has to offer, in exchange for their commitment to their studies at the present and their firm commitment to the college and the world in the future.” Sharing the 6th floor will be the Hannelore S. and Robert M. Bloch Commons, a space where students can congregate—and nap, if need be—as well as a reading room, and a world class Education Library, the first time the School of Education has had a freestanding library devoted to its programs.
And, finally, on the 7th floor, the Elizabeth Hemmerdinger Hall will serve as a state of the art space for documentary film students to screen their work and pilot new filmmaking techniques. This screening room/lecture hall, funded by Hemmerdinger’s husband, Dale, was another surprise gift, only revealed to Hemmerdinger, a Hunter College Trustee, at the library ribbon cutting. She was, she said, “totally flabbergasted and tickled,” but delighted that students in the Integrated Media Arts program will now have this professional space at their disposal.
The design of the project was inspired by renowned architect Calvert Wright, with a focus on light, clarity, and comfort, and was executed under a newly established foundation chaired by Suzanne Santry. The renovation was successfully completed on time and on budget, overseen by Fabian Bedolla. Opened to the student body on March 6, the library was in full swing by the ribbon cutting, which drew large numbers of faculty members and friends of the Hunter Community. As the library’s new offerings—and 590 available outlets—become part of the fabric of the Hunter educational experience, even more future generations of Hunter students can look forward to reaping the benefits of a 21st century library—helping them study, create, and dream towards the future that is theirs.