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Tuesday, November 20 Business

Sacred Heart settling into former GE headquarters

Sacred Heart University has made a home for itself at General Electric’s former headquarters.

The first day of classes brought new beginnings for students and faculty following the debut of SHU’s West Campus at 3135 Easton Turnpike. The 66-acre property, once home to the global company, opened at the start of the fall semester as a modern hub for a series of departments, according to officials.

“We brought it up to 2018 standards,” said Michael Kinney, senior vice president for finance and administration for the university.

Following the GE’s 2016 departure for Boston, Sacred Heart purchased the three-building campus for $31.5 million.

The larger of the two office buildings, known as the west building, was the focus of SHU’s summerlong redevelopment efforts which gutted the first and second floors.

Along with a new food court and an array of study and leisure spaces, the first floor features 14 state-of-the-art classrooms and six computer rooms that are being used for computer science and education courses

“It’s 100 percent more than what I expected, honestly,” said senior education student Erin Curley, who added that the new facility has already become a hit among students.

The education major, along with fellow classmate Emily Singleton, cited the convenience and abundance of amenities. They had front-row seats to the building’s transformation as the entire education program used a portion of the west building as temporary class space last year.

Prior to SHU’s West Campus debut, the education department was located along Oakview Drive in Trumbull. The new facilities offer added convenience and better amenities, according Singleton.

“It gives us much more room to study,” she said. “The library is packed all the time, but this is a bigger area to spread out, and everything is so high-tech and modern looking that it makes actually going to class kind of fun.”

A portion of the first level will also house a makerspace for the engineering program. Development of the space along with the entire second floor is ongoing.

The latter will feature more computer science courses along with most of classes for the business program.

Kinney maintained the university’s stance that the campus will take an “interdisciplinary approach.”

Once completed, the campus will accommodate the schools of education, hospitality, computing, and the Jack Welch College of Business, which is expected to move out of the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center by next summer, according to school officials.

Development of the second office building is also underway, with renovations being made to the first floor which will house the business program. The facility will include more classrooms and other facilities for faculty and students, including a finance lab and two artificial intelligence facilities.

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Sacred Heart’s new hospitality and management program, which started this year is expected to use the guest house property on the campus.

“It’s working well for the students,” Kinney said. “It’s an atmosphere to create and area of learning and relaxation for the whole population.”

Jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com

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