New York State (NYS) Gov. Kathy Hochul received her COVID-19 booster shot at the grand opening of the new Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences building last Monday.

The renovated Health Sciences Building has converted the abandoned Endicott-Johnson Shoe Box Factory into a new teaching facility. BU received $133 million from New York state to complete the project through initiatives such as the Southern Tier Regional Economic Council and the Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

Hochul attended the official Health Sciences Building opening, using the event to promote vaccinations and booster shots for Broome County residents.

“We have the opportunity to address the health of people in need and to continue leading the fight against this pandemic,” Hochul said, as per BingUNews. “I need this area to step up for me. We can’t declare victory over this pandemic until we have more people vaccinated. We’re not there yet.”

According to BU President Harvey Stenger, the building — a six-story, 112,000-square-foot learning facility located just south of the Johnson City Main Street Business District — was the product of years of strategic planning, creativity and support from the entirety of Binghamton University. The renovation follows other Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences endeavors, including the designing of programs for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and curriculum and programs around the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Hochul, along with Stenger, announced the opening last Monday, affirming that the building would provide the community with resources to aid the county in battling COVID-19.

“We knew we had significant strengths in the health sciences and there exists a local, regional and nationwide workforce problem that we could help alleviate,” Stenger said. “Our strategy of targeting downtown communities for our expansion efforts paid off in Binghamton and now is having similar, positive impacts in [Johnson City].”

Also at the event, New York State Sen. Fred Akshar recognized the grounds for the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ undertaking.

“At a time when nurses are in such short supply, it’s so important that we invest in creating opportunities to help the nursing field thrive,” Akshar said. “Using these investments to also transform communities in need of revitalization is exactly how government should work.”

Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, remarked on how influential he felt Hochul’s visit would be on Broome County.

“She is the kind of visionary this area needs and we appreciate all of her efforts,” Yarosh said.

Emily Gurevich, a sophomore majoring in psychology, expressed the pride she felt in the University when discovering that the governor had received her booster shot at BU.

“Someone of such high stature recognizing this institution and trusting it enough to medically associate with it further proves how capable [BU] is in so many ways,” Gurevich said.

Edmond Kwok, a senior majoring in economics, said he believed that the governor’s visit effectively promoted the next steps in combating the virus and advancing the field of health care in general.

“Receiving the new booster shot at our new facility shows that our school is ready to help contribute to the evolving field of health care,” Kwok said. “It also raises awareness for many people now eligible to receive their booster shot across the state, and can help ease worries about the vaccine.”

During the event, Hochul took time to thank health care workers who continued to work in person throughout the pandemic, voicing her hope that this devotion would inspire the next generation of health professionals — some emerging from BU’s Health Sciences Campus itself. She also discussed the project’s relevance to the entirety of New York and the success of its latest investment in a world-class education system.

“Through this project and other transformational initiatives across the Southern Tier, we will be able to attract and retain young talent while growing our state’s economy,” Hochul said.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras commented on Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ new building, describing the flexibility and power that came with the state’s investment.

“As the workforce development arm for New York [State], SUNY is ready to meet the challenges of meeting the job demand by providing high quality, affordable public education,” Malatras said. “We thank [New York State] Gov. Hochul for her leadership and unyielding support of SUNY.”

Editor’s Note: Photo added on 11/9/2021