The Dominican Sisters of Hope, whose administrative offices are in Ossining, New York, have sold their 13.1 acre property on Powell Avenue in Newburgh to Mount Saint Mary College.
Sister Lorelle Elcock, OP, prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, and Fr. Kevin E. Mackin, OFM, president of Mount Saint Mary College, were authorized to sign a purchase and sale agreement for the property. After college discussions with financiers, contractors, and the local planning board, the property transfer was closed on July 13, 2011.
The Dominican Sisters, who retain an easement to access a private cemetery on the property near Gidney Avenue, spent 128 years at this site.
“Our mission of education began here in Newburgh, when four Sisters of Saint Dominic traveled from New York City in 1883 to establish Mount Saint Mary Academy,” recalls Sister Lorelle. “Mount Saint Mary College was later founded by the sisters as a natural extension of its mission. In 1973, the sisters formally separated the college from the congregation and subdivided the campus. We are happy that, with this sale, the Dominican Center will be integrated into the college campus.”
Newburgh was proud of its early educational centers, and the Sisters of Saint Dominic were an integral part of that. The sisters’ presence grew, and they built a large structure with a beautiful gothic chapel in 1927. The chapel will remain in the building, say college officials.
Mount Saint Mary College was established a half century ago. The Mount remains the only independent four-year college in Orange County. From an opening enrollment of 166 students, Mount Saint Mary College has grown to serve 2,700 students per year, has awarded nearly 15,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and has alumni in all 50 states and a half dozen other countries.
“We celebrate and treasure our enduring connection with the community here and the many lives we have touched through our ministries,” said Sister Lorelle, who serves as a college trustee. “The sisters forged strong bonds with their students and families, here in Newburgh and beyond.”
In addition to the $5 million purchase price paid to the sisters for the 90,000 square foot building, the college anticipates a substantial investment in renovation costs. The trustees have approved a $10 million capital campaign.
Preliminary plans for the building include a state of the art library/learning commons, which Fr. Mackin believes will be a great asset. The college is a member of the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council, and also has a reciprocal borrowing agreement with Newburgh Free Library and SUNY Orange library users.
“Our primary purpose is education, in view of the vision and mission of Mount Saint Mary College,” said Fr. Mackin. “Our strategic plan calls us to achieve academic excellence while creating holistic living-learning spaces,” he noted. “And our number of resident students has grown. Our purchase of the Dominican property is a unique opportunity to help fulfill our strategic plan, design a better living-learning environment, and add some parking and green space.”
According to Fr. Mackin, nearly 40 percent of Mount Saint Mary College students are first generation college students.
“We need to steward our resources carefully,” he observed. “As an independent college, students and families invest in us to do that. We’re challenged not to rest on laurels, but to improve constantly and build for the common good, to continue to provide ‘Hope’ for today’s young women and men.”
Read more about Mount Saint Mary College at www.msmc.edu
Read more about the Dominican Sisters of Hope at www.ophope.org