A proposal to significantly expand UConn’s presence in Stamford with the addition of new programs, faculty, and student housing at its campus there is drawing strong interest from Fairfield County business leaders, regional officials, and students.
The Stamford campus expansion proposal is part of Next Generation Connecticut (#NextGenCT), a multi-faceted $1.5 billion plan to build the state’s economic future through strategic investments in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines (STEM) at the University of Connecticut.
Scores of people attended informational gatherings for business leaders, students, professors, and media members at the Stamford campus recently to learn more about the local expansion plans from Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and UConn President Susan Herbst.
“Ultimately what we’re going to do in the University of Connecticut system, including here in Stamford, is to take a Top 25 university and make it a Top 10 university – to take an important contributor to our economy and magnify that several times over,” said Malloy, who also was an adjunct professor at UConn’s Stamford campus for more than 10 years while he was mayor of that city.
UConn has had a Stamford campus since 1951, and has been in its current location in the heart of downtown since 1998.
The Next Generation Connecticut proposal would increase UConn’s overall undergraduate enrollment by 30 percent, or almost 6,600 students. Of those, about 1,500 would enroll at the Stamford campus, more than doubling its current enrollment of approximately 1,400 students.
Another facet of the plan would be the allocation of $10 million to establish student housing for the first time near the Stamford campus, where today’s students either rent from private owners nearby or commute from elsewhere.
Other parts of Next Generation Connecticut envision greatly expanding offerings of the School of Business at the Stamford campus, where it already has a strong presence through its MBA program, specialty degrees and certificates, and experiential learning programs like the Stamford Learning Accelerator.
A newly established program in Digital Media and Design also would be a major component of the Stamford expansion, offering students the chance for undergraduate and graduate degrees in that rapidly growing profession – and proximity to major employers in Fairfield County and greater New York City for internships and careers.
“This is our moment to build up the Stamford campus very boldly as a major state asset, not just an asset for the University of Connecticut,” Herbst told students, professors, business leaders, and others at the Feb. 20 event.
“We are not trying to replicate what we do in Storrs or in Farmington here in Stamford. We’re trying to do something uniquely exciting here in Stamford that should attract students from around the state and around the world,” she said. “This campus is an amazing and important part of our future.”
The campus also would gain 35 new faculty members for the business and digital media expansions, and potentially more opportunities for expanding weekend and online courses.
Almost one-quarter of the undergraduates at UConn’s main Storrs and regional campuses come from Fairfield County, including many who like the Stamford site so much that they craft their academic plans to stay there throughout their four-year degree path.
Strengthening UConn’s links with Fairfield County students, alumni, donors, businesses, and other supporters has also been a high priority for the University. Expansion of the Stamford campus would increase chances for mentorship and other connections, supporters say.
At least 21,000 alumni live in Fairfield County, with the city of Stamford having the third-highest number of UConn graduates in Connecticut behind West Hartford and Glastonbury.
The Next Generation Connecticut proposal, including the Stamford component, requires legislative approval before going into effect, and is expected to be presented to the General Assembly’s finance committee soon.
Herbst, Malloy, and others say they believe the plan would help transform both UConn and the state, and that it’s an opportunity too critical to miss.
“If we don’t act now in the state after so many years of passivity, I really think most of the ambitious people we create here will leave the state forever,” Herbst said. “If we don’t generate the big ideas, open up opportunity and boost the culture of this state, we’ll be left in the dust by other states that have less talent, less ambition. We need some very big ideas in order to get to our goals, and these are those ideas.”
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