A college in full

Iona College’s commitment to a well-rounded education has earned it kudos for innovation and a 32% increase in enrollment over three years. Now the college is creating a new home for its NewYork-Presbyterian School of Health Sciences on its Bronxville campus, formerly the site of Concordia College.

At a time when other colleges are struggling with enrollment, Iona College is what President Seamus Carey calls “an anomaly,” with enrollment up 32% over the last three years.

That may have something to do with the school’s central objective. Founded in New Rochelle by Edmund Rice’s Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1940, the private, Roman Catholic, coeducational institution is committed to creating well-rounded students. It’s essential for the community, Carey says, and for the country’s democracy.

“And that is why,” he adds, “as long as I’m president of the college, the School of Arts & Science will always be the primary school.”

But Carey also knows that beyond the critical thinking and communications skills that a liberal arts education can provide for the business world and the nation’s citizenry, there are those students who are already focused on business and in particular the health-care sector, where the demand for workers is great. To meet that need, the college is creating a new home for its NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences on its second campus in Bronxville, formerly the site of the now-defunct Concordia College.

With a $20-million gift from partner NewYork-Presbyterian, the School of Health Sciences will be located in the former Concordia library, undergoing renovation in time for the spring 2023 semester that will begin in January, Carey says.

“It will have state-of-the-art classrooms, simulation labs, a suite for occupational therapy, conference spaces and some social spaces,” Carey says of the project — designed by SLAM architects of Glastonbury, Connecticut, and realized by Consigli, a construction company based in Pleasant Valley, New York, that has done a lot of work at Iona. 

It’s all in preparation for students who are receiving bachelor’s degrees in nursing, social work or speech-language pathology and audiology; or master’s degrees in occupational therapy, communication sciences and disorders, marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling. NewYork-Presbyterian professionals will mentor the students, many of whom will presumably have an opportunity for careers with the hospital, ranked No. 1 in New York state by U.S. News & World Report.

A business edge

Established in July of last year, the School of Health Sciences isn’t the only new or recent development at the college. 

In January 2020, Iona opened its $38 million LaPenta School of Business on the 45-acre New Rochelle campus, doubling the building’s academic space to more than 68,000 square feet that feature modern classrooms and an expanded LaPenta-Lynch Trading Floor with 27 desktop computers, 16 Bloomberg Terminals and a live, wraparound stock ticker.

Carey’s related initiatives include the Gaels Go Further Mentoring Program — the Gaels being the name of the school’s athletic teams and the nickname of the student body — which draws on a network of more than 50,000 alumni across a wide range of industries to create a mixture of long-term mentorships and “flash mentoring” sessions. Among those alumni whom the students have drawn inspiration from, Carey says, are Maggie Timoney, CEO of Heineken USA, who offered insights into being the first woman to serve as the CEO of a major beer company; and Alfred F. Kelly Jr., chairman and CEO of Visa Inc., who has been working with Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky on the war in Ukraine.

Also on the New Rochelle campus is the college’s Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, selected by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to support its Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As we reported in our January article on the program, Iona received more than $350,000 in funding to work with the IVMF in fostering veteran entrepreneurship locally and nationally.

Beyond biz

Back on the 28-acre Bronxville campus, the “classic architecture” that overlooks Route 22 (White Plains Post Road) will be used for offices for the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences, Kavita R. Dhanwada, Ph.D., as well as some other administrators and faculty. (With an operating budget of more than $110 million, Iona has 750 employees and 3,600 students, 600 of whom are graduate students.)

The former Concordia performing arts building will be used for Iona’s burgeoning performing arts offerings, which include the addition of an Irish dance team — all under the supervision of Kelly McKenna Beyrer, director of performing arts, a new position. The Bronxville campus will also be home to some of the activities in the college’s Club Sports program, launched last year for those who want to stay active, even if they don’t have National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 dreams.

Speaking of Division 1, Carey made news, and waves, when he hired controversial Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, whose storied career has been marred by sex and bribery scandals. Before a packed house at Iona’s Hynes Athletics Center on Jan. 30, Pitino achieved his 800th collegiate career win and is looking to take the Iona men’s team further into the NCAA tournament known as “March Madness.” 

It was basketball, not the thought of a career in education, that led the Bronx-born Carey, then a first-generation college student, to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.

“I was an athlete,” he recalls. “Vassar recruited me to be on the basketball team.”

If you had told Carey back then that he would become a teacher, much less a college president, he wouldn’t have believed you, he says. But he had “an amazing experience with philosophy educators.”

And that led him to a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University in his hometown and a nine-year stint teaching the subject at Manhattan College, where he chaired the department. He went on to become dean of arts and sciences at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield for four years and then spent five years transforming Kentucky’s Transylvania University, increasing its commitment to diversity and developing a mentorship program for students with the business community.

Since July 1, 2019, he’s brought the same entrepreneurial approach to Iona, which U.S. News & World Report places among its “Top 20 Innovative Schools.”

For more, visit iona.edu.

More from Georgette Gouveia
Planting seeds in the garden of earthly delights Ever since Eve tempted...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *