NEWTON-The government officials, alumni, employees, and supporters of Sussex County Community College saw the new library and science building at its ribbon cutting last week as the shiny new beacon on the hill, a state-of-the-art example of a partnership between higher education and government. SCCC students, however, saw it in much more practical terms. "The students are most excited about the new lab chairs," assistant professor Martha Hughes told a crowd of more than 100 at the new building's ribbon-cutting and dedication last Friday. Guests at the dedication got to try out the new lab chairs, see the science equipment and classrooms and stroll down the aisles of books in the new library. "I love this college," said Martha Baldwin, a recent SCCC graduate, who was touring the new library. "This is so state-of-the-art." The new facility is more than twice the size of the old one and now offers quiet study rooms and rooms for group work. For students taking science courses, the five new labs are an improvement, well beyond the chairs. "Space in the lab was very tight, very uncomfortable," said Cayla Vander Groef of Wantage, a second-year student and president of the Student Government Association. "I'm finished with my required science credits, but this makes me want to come back." "I was in shock when I first saw this building," said Jennifer Mirro, a second-year student, also from Wantage. "It's amazing to me, the technology that they have." The dedication of the three-story, 27,000-square-foot building, is the culmination of years of planning and working with state representatives and Sussex County freeholders, Gottfried said. The $8 million building was funded with state and county funds, he said. "As freeholders, we are very proud of the college," said JoAnn D'Angeli, freeholder director. She was one of several speakers who noted that the building's location serves to link the lower campus with buildings at the top of a steep hill, known as Cardiac Hill. "It takes the cardiac out of the hill," D'Angeli said. When planning the building, college officials took input from students and faculty, Gottfried said. Dr. Peter Panos, director of the library, said the main objective was to make it a "student-centered facility." "As the college grows the library will also grow to meet the needs of the students," he said. "Our goal is to be the academic heart of the college and the academic heart of the community." Gottfried explained that he used to say that a college is not just bricks and mortar, but what goes on in the classroom. "But now I have to say, it also is bricks and mortar," he said. "This is making a dramatic difference in the quality of education we offer our students."