Southern looks to expand its campus

Aaron BerkowitzGeneral Assignment Reporter 

NEW HAVEN—SCSU is looking to expand its campus once again. Southern officials said the university is currently conducting tests to determine if Gateway’s old Long Wharf campus is environmentally safe to occupy or not.

“We took care custody of the property last April,” said SCSU’s Executive Vice President, James Blake. “The property is on, what used to be a manufacturing site, so we have hired a consultant to do a feasibility study on the property to see what opportunities would be presented. The studies are coming to its conclusion and we should receive the report within a few weeks.”

Blake said overall he is excited for the overall idea of expanding campus to Long Wharf.

“I think it’s great. When you look at universities, not only throughout Connecticut, but throughout the country more and more schools are doing expansions to bring their programs to areas that are more accessible,” said Blake.

“Once we find out if the property is useable or not, then we can begin the process of determining what would be the best fit use of the property. “

Robert Sheeley, Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations, said the tests being done by the consultant are to test three deciding factors and there has been talk about what the land could be used for.

“The first being evaluation will check to see if there are any environmental issues with the land,” said Sheeley.

“Number two will be an evaluation of the current structure. Is it structurally sound? Will it make sense to renovate it or to demolish the building? The third will look at the possibility of locating the Health and Human Services Building on Long Wharf and whether or not it would be feasible.”

Slideshow Credit: Derek Torrellas 

Sheeley said if the decision to build the Health and Human Services Building on Long Wharf is finalized it could lead to the relocation of faculty and staff, but there’s been no official decision made because the report hasn’t been completed yet.

“We would like more of a presence downtown and this would be prime property for us and a key component in doing this,” said Sheeley.

Dr. Deborah Weiss, Communications Disorders Department Chairperson, said she too is excited for the expansion of Southern, but the project has also raised some concerns.

“If we were able to open a fine arts cultural center or utilize the space for a program that would have clear advantages to being in that location then I believe it would ultimately be a positive addition to campus,” said Dr. Weiss. “I wouldn’t like to see an entire school moved out of campus because I think it would be very difficult for faculty and students for having to go back and forth between campuses.”

Sheeley said although any talk of expansion, relocation, or change to the campus is exciting he wants to make clear that nothing is set in stone yet. He also said the student’s success and wellbeing is at the center of all the university’s decisions.

“The whole point of even having this deliberation is for the well being of the students,” said Sheeley.”Sometimes you’ve got to bring the program to your students rather than have your students come to your facility. What’s convenient for our students is very important to us and affects the decisions we make.”

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