Renovated Greenhouse will Enhance SUNY Orange Curriculum and Expand Available Programming

PHOTO: Ed Devitt at the podiumMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- SUNY Orange celebrated the completion of the first phase of its greenhouse renovation project Thursday (April 19) by dedicating the Devitt Center for Botany and Horticulture during a modest ceremony on the College’s Middletown campus.

Located next to Horton Hall, the refurbished greenhouse, one of two greenhouse structures that have remained from the original Morrison estate that was donated to establish the College in 1950, now features a new classroom and laboratory space that offers an enhanced teaching and learning environment for students and faculty alike.

The project was made possible by a generous gift to SUNY Orange by the F.E. Devitt Family. The Devitt Family has quietly demonstrated its commitment to the greater Orange County community by supporting a multitude of organizations and initiatives over the years. Thursday’s dedication featured brief remarks from Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president; Kirsten Gabrielsen, the College’s sustainability coordinator; and Ed Devitt (right).

“I can only imagine the possibilities that are before us,” Gabrielsen said while discussing how the new building will broaden the College’s academic programs within the Biology department. “I look forward to the day when the Devitt Center for Botany and Horticulture is the most educationally vibrant, exciting and stimulating environment it can be for our students.”

PHOTO: Devitt Center for Botany and HorticultureDevitt, who credited Richards with creating a vision and image for the College that has engendered support from all sectors of the community, said he was happy to have helped SUNY Orange. “I am hopeful this building will be an asset to all of the College’s students.”

A lifelong resident of Orange County, Devitt has been a developer, businessman and preservationist. He currently owns and operates Devitt Management Associates with his son Marc. For many years, Ed Devitt was a co-owner of the master franchise for Super 8 Motels in New York State. Devitt served as an Orange County legislator for eight years and has been a leader in the business community since graduating from SUNY Orange in 1966.

To supplement the academic work that will take place inside the Devitt Center, SUNY Orange has been able to renovate an outdoor “cold frame” thanks to the generosity of the Middletown Garden Lovers and the Fusco Family. Each of the gifts are included as part of the College's Defining Moments capital campaign and were made possible through the efforts of the SUNY Orange Foundation.

The renovated cold frame is located adjacent to the Devitt Center and will protect plants from the cold weather and allow the College to extend the growing season of those indigenous plants used in botany, horticulture and environmental courses. In cold-winter regions, cold frames are most often used for growing seedlings that are later transplanted into open ground, and can also be a permanent home to cold-hardy vegetables grown for autumn and winter harvest.

PHOTO: Marc and Ed Devitt unveil sign for Devitt Center for Botany and HorticultureIn the coming months, the College will begin work on renovating its remaining original greenhouse. That structure will serve as an operational greenhouse and will be used to store and grow plants. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-C-Forestburgh), has secured an Assembly line item that will help fund a portion of the refurbishment of the College’s second greenhouse.

The cold frame and greenhouse renovations fit with SUNY Orange’s continued commitment to sustainability. The College was an early signee of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment and sustainability is one of five strategic priorities in the College’s Strategic Plan 2009-2014. Following a yearlong self-study, SUNY Orange earned a Bronze rating as part of the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) conducted by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

The College is guided by a Sustainability Master Plan, has implemented a myriad of green initiatives to reduce its overall environmental impact and has established policies ensuring that all newly constructed SUNY Orange buildings of 20,000 square feet or larger are built to LEED Silver specifications. Kaplan Hall, on the Newburgh campus, will be Orange County’s first publicly constructed LEED-certified building.

For more information the College’s sustainability program, contact Gabrielsen at (845) 341-4118.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940