Montclair, NJ (April 20, 2012)—With more than 150 family, friends, former classmates, and guests in attendance, Montclair State University alumnus and benefactor Conrad J. Schmitt ’58 cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the newly renovated Conrad J. Schmitt Hall at a special ceremony at the University on Thursday, April 19.
The new home of the departments of Spanish and Italian, Linguistics, Modern Languages and Literatures, the Language Testing and Technology labs, and the Red Hawk Math Learning Center (aka “math emporium”), Schmitt Hall was named in honor of Schmitt in recognition of his generous bequest to the University. Schmitt’s bequest will support scholarships and activities in the departments of Modern Languages and Literatures, Linguistics, and Spanish and Italian, and will help ensure that future students interested in language study will enjoy the same opportunities that made such a difference in his life.
"Conrad Schmitt made a decision last year that will make a positive difference in the lives of Montclair State students for generations to come." said Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole. "He decided he wanted today’s and tomorrow’s students to be given the same opportunities he had for an outstanding education—an education that would shape the course of their lives."
Schmitt, originally from Maplewood, New Jersey, graduated magna cum laude from what was then Montclair State Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, French, and English. After a career in education as a teacher of foreign languages, Schmitt joined the McGraw-Hill Book Company as an editor-in-chief of Foreign Languages, English as a Second Language, and Bilingual Education. He is the author or co-author of more than 250 textbooks in Spanish, French, Italian, and German.
Crediting his grandparents for sparking his interest in languages and travel, Schmitt also paid tribute to two of his Montclair State professors. "Professionally there are two people I really wish could be here," said Schmitt. "They are Teresa de Escoriaza and Germaine Cressey, who were two of the most dynamic teachers anybody could ever have."
Formerly known as Finley Hall, Schmitt Hall’s renovations began in September of 2010. The project consisted of a complete renovation of the existing two-story building and the addition of a third floor, increasing the total area from 37,000 square feet to 52,700 square feet. A new entrance tower, a new elevator on the south side of the building, and a new exterior wall system were part of the construction.
The new facility is already in use and being appreciated by students and faculty alike. Lois Oppenheim, chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, expressed her gratitude on behalf of the faculty, saying, "His gift has provided the faculty of this University with the best possible means to educate. And he has provided the students of this University with the best possible environment in which to learn."