Success of Stamford Student Housing Prompts UConn to Offer More

The Stamford Campus. (Angelina Reyes/UConn Photo)
The Stamford Campus. (Angelina Reyes/UConn Photo)

Students have responded so enthusiastically to the new housing option near UConn Stamford over the past year that the University is adding approximately 120 more beds in nearby apartment buildings, starting this fall.

The UConn Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to authorize approval of leases at multiple properties in Stamford, for apartments that UConn would then rent to students.

Trustees also gave administrators the authority to enter into an agreement for more units if the other apartments fill up.

The housing will be offered in addition to the apartments at 900 Washington Boulevard that the University has been leasing to students since last fall under an agreement with the property owner of that six-story, 116-unit building.

As with the Washington Boulevard property, the apartments at other complexes would be rented by the University to students at rates that would allow UConn to recoup its costs through rent, along with the additional tuition and fee revenue that UConn receives from increased enrollment due to the housing availability.

“This is clearly a case of demand significantly outpacing supply in the best way possible,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “So we needed to work to meet that demand and provide housing for as many students as we can in Stamford. We began this experiment a year ago and have been delighted by how successful it is. It speaks to the value of good student housing, but also the value of the campus itself.”

UConn’s decision to add housing last year at Stamford was the culmination of several years of work that responded to student demand at that campus, which is UConn’s largest regional location with 1,700 undergraduates and 600 graduate students.

Although the campus has been growing, the vast majority of students had to commute from other communities because they could not afford Stamford apartment rents.

The UConn residence hall is a public-private partnership in which UConn holds a master sublease from the building’s developer and operates the apartments as student housing, making the cost much more affordable for students. The same arrangements will be in place with the owners of the properties that were approved at Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

The housing has been popular among students who want a genuine urban university experience, in which they can take advantage of Stamford’s many offerings while making friends with others who live in the hall.

“Having our facilities separate but concentrated in the same area is very important, because it helps to create an urban neighborhood campus right here in Stamford,” said Herbst. “This is really a point of pride and growth we are excited to embrace. We look forward to seeing where it goes in the future.

“Our regional campuses are not satellites or branches,” she added. “They each have their own unique identity and inherent value to the University and the state. This is true whether they are in the heart of a city’s downtown, like Hartford, Stamford, and Waterbury, or at Avery Point on Long Island Sound.”

“The desire to attend UConn Stamford and live in university housing is obviously incredibly strong,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Kruger. “We knew there would be solid interest, but this easily exceeds even our highest expectations. That is what we call a good problem to have. It is clear that the prospective student market is telling us that UConn Stamford’s academic offerings and geographic location here in the city are highly desirable, as is dedicated and affordable student housing near the campus. I want to thank President Herbst and her team for pulling this together as quickly and efficiently as they did to meet this growing need and serve our students as best we can. As long as interest remains high, we would like to do all we can to accommodate it. We want to continue to make this campus and the neighborhood as vibrant and dynamic as possible.”

The building at 900 Washington Boulevard is halfway between the main campus and the Stamford Transportation Center. The other buildings are also conveniently located near to the main campus and other amenities.

Scott Jordan, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, told trustees in a memo along with Craig H. Kennedy, UConn’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, that more than 500 incoming UConn Stamford students had placed deposits on housing as of May 1.

Through normal attrition of students over summer, the University estimates the ultimate housing demand will be between 400 and 440 beds, which would have left a shortfall of 80 to 120 beds at the Washington Boulevard site if the new agreements were not reached.

Applications to the UConn Stamford campus were extremely robust for the 2018-19 academic year, with an increase of 429 (up 23 percent) over last year, Kennedy and Jordan told trustees.

“It is believed that this increase is partially due to the very positive reaction to the University-provided housing in fall 2017, and that denying housing to students who submitted deposits will result in students choosing to enroll at another institution and not attend UConn,” they said.

UConn has had a presence in Stamford since 1951, when it began offering extension courses in the former Stamford High School. A year later, a regional campus was formally established, with an enrollment of 21 part-time students.

The campus moved to a new building in 1962, with four-year degrees being offered in several fields of study starting in the 1970s. UConn Stamford moved to its current downtown location in 1998.