Building on its legacy and launching boldly into the future, Iona College started 2020 off with an inspiring celebration of the highly anticipated ribbon-cutting of the $38 million LaPenta School of Business.
Business leader and Board of Trustees member Robert V. LaPenta ’67, ’00H, laid the foundation for the new building in 2015 with a transformational gift of $17.5 million, the largest in Iona’s history.
In a heartfelt speech, Mr. LaPenta, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1967 from the business school that now bears his name, said, “This is a new era for Iona College. This building is going to be a beacon for the campus for the next 30 to 40 years to come. It is going to support the education of so many students and enable them to open doors to successful careers. I can’t tell you how proud I am and how indebted I am to Iona for giving me the ability to give back in this way and enable this building to be built.”
President Seamus Carey, Ph.D., remarked, “The building we stand before has been designed to foster a new era of learning and creativity in business education. It will house students and faculty dedicated to the pursuit of new ideas and solutions, and those faculty and students will be innovative, engaged in the classroom and the world, reflective and experiential. And it will honor Bob LaPenta best by cultivating the kind of imaginations that would allow others to dream and do as big as he has for our College.”
Toward that end, the new building encourages what research suggests is absolutely essential for student achievement—the ability to interact and collaborate across disciplines, said Darrell P. Wheeler, Ph.D., MPH, ACSW, Iona College provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “Just walking out of your office or out of your classroom, you’re going to have what I like to call ‘highly positive collisions.’ Those are the things that facilitate innovation,” Wheeler said. “This sets a new bar in Westchester and the region. This defines the caliber and the potential of a 21st century education.”
The new LaPenta School of Business doubles the building’s academic space to more than 68,000 square feet, including:
- 21 classrooms with Bluetooth lecture podiums, touchscreen whiteboards, wireless projectors, reconfigurable workstations and video conferencing in three of the rooms;
- An expanded LaPenta-Lynch Trading Floor with a live, wrap-around stock ticker that can be seen throughout the building;
- 56 faculty offices that house all business professors under the same roof for the first time ever;
- A 110-seat lecture hall;
- 11 glass-enclosed, group study rooms; and
- Eco-friendly features that enhance Iona’s restoration of the original building, including LED light fixtures, daylight harvesting sensors, high-efficiency boilers, low-flow plumbing, a computerized building management system, and eco-friendly building materials selected throughout.
A central atrium serves as the main gathering space, and an outdoor terrace on the third floor is ideally situated for studying, gathering for lunch, watching a sporting event on the field below or simply relaxing in the sunshine.
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“Through a combination of high-quality academic programs, experiential learning that leverages our proximity to New York City, and an engaged alumni network, students get tremendous return on their investment at Iona College,” said Darrell P. Wheeler, Ph.D., MPH, ACSW, Iona College provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs.
Business Students Help Shape the
New Rochelle Community
One of the most powerful ways Iona College prepares students for successful careers is by providing opportunities for them to work with and serve local non-profits and businesses.
In 2019, 68 seniors in the LaPenta School of Business engaged in service-learning projects in a class unique to the College – The Role of Business in Contemporary American Society. Taught by Bret Sanner, Ph.D., assistant professor of Management, Business Administration & Health Care Management for Iona’s LaPenta School of Business, this class challenged students to develop their personal and professional talents and then take everything they learned in class and apply it to their real-world passions.
Projects included conducting data analyses for HOPE Community Services and for New Rochelle Parks and Recreation; piloting marketing campaigns for Lincoln Park Community Gardens, the Chamber of Commerce and Meals on Wheels; as well as developing new offerings for the New Rochelle Youth Bureau and Sheldrake Environmental Services.
“Working with our clients creates an opportunity for our students to transform themselves and others,” said Sanner. “The projects have resulted in students finding new passions and changing career goals and aspirations. Their great work has also launched programs that continue to make a positive impact on New Rochelle well after the class is over.”
Matthew Montaruli ’20, a marketing major, and his team, worked with NDA Architects in White Plains, N.Y., researching common practices and trends in real estate and applying this research to create a survey for a target market segment.
“I think the most impactful part of this whole project was using skills and techniques we learned in class and then getting to utilize them in a real business situation,” Montaruli said. “This allowed me to hone these strategies while working directly with a company that gives immediate feedback.”
One team, Ana Caceres ’20, Timothy Susko ’20, Khody Wright ’20, and Malcolm Moreno Beningo ’20, performed an extensive analysis of park usage for the New Rochelle Parks & Recreation Department. The findings were so valuable the team was invited to present their report at a City Council meeting.
“Having small classes filled with socially-minded students creates opportunities for students and faculty to collaboratively build experiences that harness students’ talents and develop new skills in ways that are unique to Iona,” added Sanner.