A visit to the Wagner College campus might leave one thinking he or she was visiting a small, rural liberal arts school. But the Lutheran-affiliated college's 105-acre campus sits upon a hilltop overlooking Manhattan, the Atlantic Ocean, and New York Harbor in the borough of Staten Island.
The attractiveness of a small town school blended against a major metropolitan backdrop has brought students in and kept them there. Upper-class retention rates within the 1,616-member student body are high, leaving campus officials scrambling to come up with more student housing and new facilities to keep interest in the college thriving.
Further cementing Wagner's position as a leading educational institutional, U.S. News & World Report ranked the school as a "Top Tier" institution among regional colleges and universities in the northeastern United States (from Maine to Maryland) for the 2001 year. Wagner now ranks as one of the "Top Ten" New York colleges and universities in this category, and 26th overall for "Northern" schools and universities.
Despite its major metropolitan location, Wagner has ambitious growth plans and has been undergoing a $13 million campus-wide improvement. All classroom facilities are undergoing renovation and modernization.
The campus' newest facility, the Spiro Sports Center, opened in 1999. The 93,000-square-foot, student-oriented, multi-purpose athletic and recreational facility tripled the school's existing athletics. It boasts a 2,100-seat main gymnasium for NCAA Division Varsity sports; a six-lane NCAA regulation-sized pool; dance studios; a fitness center; and a free weights area.
Also part of the college's recent multi-million dollar renovation of athletics facilities, a new Football Stadium provides a venue for a successful Division I-AA football program. Along with this facility are a multi-sport practice area, baseball field, and softball and lacrosse fields on the lower campus.
On the drawing boards is a $14 million arts center to be built directly across from the Spiro Sports Center. Because Wagner prides itself on its musical theater undergraduate program, college officials want to replace the present theater (a "makeshift multi-purpose auditorium") with a center that has a professional-class theater, classrooms, and rehearsal space.
The college is still raising funds toward construction, and no date has been set for when the center will become a reality. But, says Wagner President Norman Smith, "Performing arts is a program area that is of particular interest to some cultural patrons that might not otherwise be involved with Wagner.
"Hopefully the [arts center concept] will inspire the giving necessary to realize this wonderful goal."