BY: BRENDAN CAPUANO
ASST. NEWS EDITOR
It has been just over a year since Sacred Heart University purchased General Electric’s former global headquarters in Nov. 2016. The University has been trying to integrate West Campus into the overall fold of Sacred Heart.
“There’s different names to the places, but it is all one place,” said Michael Kinney, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. “We can’t just differentiate West Campus.”
Many students have been left wondering what is happening over at West Campus. For most students and faculty, West Campus is a place to park their cars.
“You get immediate use for eight hundred cars to park, which would take close to 9 million dollars to build a parking garage. Think of it as $10,000 a car minimum,” said Kinney.
One of GE’s athletic facilities has been re-purposed into a dance studio on the first floor of the massive property. Featuring padded floors, large windows, and a wall of mirrors, dancers have been taking advantage of the new space.
“Overall, it’s been very beneficial for us and allows us to be in a space of our own,” said Angelina Pagano, junior and member of Sacred Heart’s ballroom dance class.
West Campus also features a 60,000 square foot hotel, ballroom and conference center which has been used for both university and private events, such as the annual Discovery Gala.
The University’s offices of Business, Marketing and Communications, and Information Technologies have relocated to the third floor of West Campus. The combined offices take up less than one third of the floor.
In the future, the first floor of West Campus will be used predominantly for classroom space.
“On the first floor, about one third of the building is getting gutted, and next year, come June or July, there will be 14 classrooms,” said Kinney.
In the academic Spring of 2018 the Isabelle Farrington College of Education will move out of Oakview Campus and begin to offer classes at West Campus.
Also within the next year, the first floor of West Campus will also feature “innovation labs” for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
The School of Computing will additionally be moved to West Campus by January of 2019.
The University will be opening incubator spaces for businesses to rent.
According to Kinney, finance firms, drug companies, game or graphic designers could potentially occupy these spaces.
“It brings reality to the classroom,” said Kinney.
The hotel, in partnership with the Great River Golf Club, will also be utilized as a resource for Hospitality, Resort and Tourism Management majors to gain practical experience.
West Campus itself cost $31.5 million, and at the time of the purchase many other university developments were underway. Students are left to wonder: how is it that we can afford such massive projects?
“A lot of it does come down to financial management. We have been saving for a number of years to do these things. We have also gone to the debt market,” said Kinney. “The money we owe other people is relatively low, but quite frankly, it’s a combination of those things: money we have put aside, money we have borrowed, and some third-party gifts.”
West Campus is expected to be up and running by 2019.
“The facility up there is in phenomenal shape, and it can do a lot,” said Kinney. “By January of next year, through a combination of staff, faculty and students, there will be about 1,000 people moving around for a facility that will ultimately have 2,500 plus people as time goes on.”