Today: Apr 21, 2024

Business school gets $3.8M for construction

Monica Szakacs, News Writer: 

The new School of Business project has been on the books for a number of years and in 2005/2006, the decision was made for the old Student Center to be converted into the School of Business’s new home, according to

Photo by Monica Szakacs
, executive vice president. 

 

Recently, the State Bond Commission approved $3.8 million for the renovations and construction. The total amount needed to complete the project is estimated at around $6.5 million, according to Blake. 

“The project is somewhat unique because it has multiple funding sources,” said Blake. “It has approximately half of the money coming from CSUS 2020.” 

Three years ago, Blake said Jodi Rell, former Connecticut governor, approved the 2020 program that allocates $98 million a year to CSU’s four universities. The rest of the funding, according to Blake, was planned to come from previously authorized bonds that have not been spent yet. Blake said the bonds, at the time, had been authorized but not allocated by the Bonds Commission, which is the $3.8 million. 

“The challenge was getting that on the Bond Commission,” said Blake, “because that was something that needed their approval and when we were just about ready to go, that’s when the state fiscal situation became a challenge.” 

Blake said there were reluctances with Rell and others with the funds. In many cases he said Rell would, because of the fiscal situation, cancel the Bond Commission meetings or when she had a meeting, the item was not on the agenda. 

For about 20 years they have been talking about moving the faculty and staff out of Seabury Hall, according to Ellen Durnin, Dean of the School of Business. Since the time she has come to Southern, Durnin said the university mounted an aggressive campaign to receive the remaining $3.8 million approved at the Bond Commission. 

“We engaged in communications campaigns, where we wrote letters to legislators and other folks who could be influential,” said Durnin. “We created a brochure that showed the sad conditions in Seabury Hall, and also talked about the benefits the new building would bring to the university and the business community.” 

Durnin said legislators were invited to tour the building and there was a strong support from legislators and Stanley Battle, SCSU president, to get the bond approved. 

“We were quite pleased when governor Malloy put this on his first Bond Commission agenda, because it does create jobs,” said Blake. “It’s estimated 97 jobs would be created as a result of the project.” 

Blake said the School has already been designed; the project already went out to bid for a contractor with Nazul Builders Construction Company, which did previous work with Southern. Now, the contract document has to be viewed and approved internally by Southern, the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Public 

 Works and a number of other state agencies, according to Blake. 

“It should go fairly fast,” said Blake, “because the goal of everyone is to get the construction started and we hope to be in construction in May or certainly June this summer.” 

Durnin said the building will provide state of the art space for the faculty and staff to be located. In addition, Seabury Hall is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Durnin. If a student had a physical disability, she said the student would not be able to get up stairs to meet with an advisor. The new building will be ADA compliant, said Durnin. 

“In addition, we are going to have a meeting space where we can bring in people from the business community and offer workshops and conferences for them,” said Durnin. “This will really put Southern on the map as a player in the business community.”

Durnin, who attended the Bond Commission, said Malloy was very positive and very proactive about approving projects that support higher education and that support the jump-start of Connecticut’s economy. 

Both Durnin and Blake said the New School of Business will be a real quality improvement for everyone in the program and at the university. Durnin said the building will bring a better sense of student orientation and advisement. There will be a training room, computer lab and space for all faculty and staff. 

Southern’s address is 501 Crescent Street, and Blake said the old run-down Student Center greets people as they enter the main entrance. With the new School of Business, he said there will be a patio for students and staff to relax outside, a lot of glass so people can look into the building and the overall architectural design will bring pride to the university’s campus. 

“We expect to be finished with renovations and construction and moved in by the end of summer 2012,” said Blake. “When this happens, Seabury Hall will be demolished.”

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