UConn Marks Opening of Avery Point’s New Student Center

Many local and state dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Student Center at the Avery Point Campus. Shown above (l to r) are State Senator Andrea Stillman, President of the Associated Student Government at Avery Point Ronald Tardiff, State Senator Andrew Maynard, UConn President Susan Herbst, Campus Director Michael Alfultis, and State Representative Elissa Wright. (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

Many local and state dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new student center at the Avery Point Campus. Shown above (l to r) are State Senator Andrea Stillman, President of the Associated Student Government at Avery Point Ronald Tardiff, State Senator Andrew Maynard, UConn President Susan Herbst, Campus Director Michael Alfultis, and State Representative Elissa Wright. (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

UConn officials, students, and leaders from throughout southeastern Conn. are celebrating the opening of a new student center at the University’s shoreline Avery Point campus.

The student center, which includes an auditorium, was completed this summer and opened to the public at a ceremony Wednesday before a crowd of UConn students and employees, regional business and community leaders, and other guests.

In addition to the renovation of the 300-seat auditorium – originally built in the 1940s by the U.S. Coast Guard – the $9.6 million project also included the addition of an expanded dining facility, study areas, lounges, and other amenities.

“The opening of a brand-new student center at Avery Point gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on the nature of student life at a great university,” President Susan Herbst says, noting that a well-rounded education involves more than taking courses and pursuing a major.

“The construction of a first-rate student center – with a performance venue, a lounge and game room, and other features, will go a long way toward providing our students with the essential experience of being immersed in university life,” she says.

Herbst added that being a student is an opportunity to try new things, forge new friendships, and develop new interests, all of which are fostered by the presence of a center with the services and space to fit their needs.

“Our new student center will serve as a dramatic

Honored guests began gathering at the student center just prior to its dedication on August 23, 2013 (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

Honored guests began gathering at the student center just prior to its dedication on August 23, 2013 (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

new gateway to the campus and social hub for our vibrant campus community,” adds Michael Alfultis, Avery Point’s campus director.

Ronald Tardiff, a sophomore from Preston who is president of the Associated Student Government at Avery Point, says the center will be well-used for studying, dining, recreation, student organization gatherings, and other events.

“As as student and a student leader, I’m very impressed by UConn’s responsiveness to students’ concerns and the commitment to making Avery Point a campus that people are excited to come to,” he says.

Indeed, students started using the center within the first few minutes that it was open, checking out the theater and challenging each other to matches on the ping-pong and pool tables in the new game room.

The center is the first new construction project in a decade at the campus, which UConn

The Department of Dining Services will provide tasty and nutritious food in the new student center. (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

The Department of Dining Services will provide tasty and nutritious food in the new student center. (Jeff Gonci/UConn Photo)

opened in 1967 on the site that previously had been a Coast Guard training facility. Before that, it was formerly the summer estate of Morton Plant, a railroad, steamship, and hotel magnate.

Although the student center is the first new construction at Avery Point in recent years, the campus has undergone major transformations as a result of $50 million in renovations and additions under the UConn 2000 infrastructure improvement program.

These included updates to Marine Sciences and technology facilities, the Branford House, the gym, classrooms in the Academic Building, the Project Oceanology building, and new landscaping. Two new research vessels also have been added in recent years, and the library was extensively renovated.

Additional work is scheduled to take place at the campus in coming years as money rom the Next Generation Connecticut project is allocated to improve some facilities on campus and along the waterfront docking area for its research vessels.