- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 14 September 2016
- Written by GIANA BRUCELLA | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
OceanFirst Bank has landed its name on what used to be called the Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) through a $4 million agreement between OceanFirst and the University.
The 20-year marketing agreement includes naming rights and will provide ongoing financial support for athletic and intramural facilities used by students as well as the University community.
The bank, which was founded in 1902, is described as a regional institution committed to higher education and communal relationships, and is one of the largest and oldest community banks in New Jersey. Known as a historical institution committed to growth, it mirrors the University’s antique grounds and its continual progression in both accreditation and size.
Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, Mary Anne Nagy describes OceanFirst Bank as being a “good partner that has had an interest in Monmouth.” The Bank currently holds a third floor suite in the center, which they’ve been renting out for a number of years. Companies who wish to utilize the suites for business or entertainment purposes may rent them out annually. As an original suite holder, OceanFirst has had a venerable relationship with Monmouth University and continues to show its dedication and support.
Jason Kroll, Vice President of External Affairs, is very much responsible for the name change. His role at the University is to raise revenue and philanthropic dollars for scholarship, and he saw that OceanFirst most aptly fit the bill.
The bank has been closely involved with the University for over 20 years, working to provide scholarship funds for students in Monmouth and Ocean counties. Furthering the bank’s relationship with the University, this new sponsorship “enhances generous funding by the OceanFirst Foundation.”
Since its inception the bank has awarded grants of over $616,000 to Monmouth University, including scholarships to 140 students over the past seven years,” accodring to Kroll.
Additionally, the bank’s President and CEO Christopher Maher is a member of the Monmouth University Board of Trustees.
More direct, visible changes from the arrangement are present in the building’s appearance. A banner that reads “OceanFirst Bank Center” now covers the exterior of the once bare building, along with a picture of MU’s logo, the Blue Hawk. The jumbotron in the basketball arena also displays the new name along with the bank’s logo. Kroll says to expect more permanent changes to the exterior signage once municipal authorizations are acquired.
Although the name change may have seemed sudden, the University has had long term plans to place a more permanent name on the building. Nagy alluded to similar name changes to buildings that have happened over the years. The residential building “Hesse Hall” was more recently known as “New Hall,” and “McCallan Hall” was formerly known as the “New Academic Building”, or “NAB.”
Built in 2009, the informally named MAC always faced a name change, and it was only a matter of time before the building received a proper title. “We try to have a placeholder, because you have to have something for the building, knowing that people will be exposed to a facility. You may find someone who has interest in naming the building itself,” said Nagy.
She also shared that there is a process that instructs such name changes. As one of the many campaigners for the University, she said, “All of us are responsible for making contacts both in business and other worlds that we think have an interest in supporting higher education and young people and who have the means to financially help us.”
Additionally, Kroll revealed that the University has had many contenders throughout the years. “There have been a number of discussions with potential partners, but at the time this agreement was finalized, there were no competing offers.”
Senior finance major Miguel Alves, who plays for the men’s soccer team and spends much of his time in the facility, said that the name change “is good for business purposes.” He added, “I’ve gotten accustomed to calling it the MAC, and I’ll still call it the MAC though. It’s easy, we’re in the MACC conference and we call it the MAC.” Because the name change has no direct affect to athletes, Alves stands indifferent towards the amendment. Athletes were notified through President Brown’s email along with the rest of the student body, having no prior knowledge to the name change.
Similarly, senior and computer science student, Collin Stewart said, “I still call it the MAC because that’s what I have called it since I got here in 2012, it’s kind of engraved in my brain.” Stewart’s concerns with the building lie solely with how his team plays on the court. “It doesn’t matter what its called to me as long as we are winning.”
Other students may even take it upon themselves to grant the building with a new nickname. Senior and communications student, Justin Robinson, who also plays for the men’s basketball team, said, “I myself call it the Bank, but it’s still the MAC to me.” Both Stewart and Robinson expressed they were equally surprised at the building’s name change.
Regardless of what the building is called, it is still a central location for the area that continues to attract people for various events. According to an article released by the University More than 120,000 visitors come to the OceanFirst Bank Center annually for sporting events, concerts and shows, high school commencements and high school athletic tournaments, and sports camps and clinics. The OceanFirst Bank Center holds the University’s fitness center and pool, a 4,100-seat arena, a 200-meter, six-lane indoor track, educational and conference space, locker rooms, the Leon Hess Champions’ Hall, The Monmouth Athletic Hall of Fame, and the University store.
Although there are no other name changes in the works as of now, future modifications to the University are to be expected. According to Kroll, the University will continue to “engage individuals and organizations interested in the opportunity to be part of Monmouth University’s legacy.”
PHOTO TAKEN by Giana Brucella
IMAGE TAKEN from crehab.org