The University of New Haven last month opened its new Orange campus, set deep into the woods off a winding Derby Milford Road in what used to be Hubbell Inc headquarters.
With its 70,000 square feet of space, the building offered the University much needed expansion room. Yet the school is moving cautiously, bringing only carefully defined programs to the new campus.
The new Orange campus houses the School of Business, which includes the the MBA program, an Executive MBA and a sports management program.
Graduate classes are taking place here in the evening, with students arriving for classes after 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. A shuttle from the main campus in West Haven brings those who need transportation and takes them back at 10.
The University spent about $9 million to buy the property and to refurbish it for its own purposes, much of it donated by two alumni, Sam Bergami and Charlie Pompea. The only outside construction that needed to take place was for an 80-space parking lot to supplement the garage under the main part of the building.
Appointed in rich, warm colors, with movable furniture, the new classrooms represent state-of-the art 21st century learning environments.
“Each classroom is a smart classroom,” said Elizabeth Davis, dean of the School of Business, when she showed her department’s new classrooms to local reporters. “Each can be turned into a computer lab.”
Flexibility is the name of the game. Currently there are six classrooms and six break-out rooms for small group sessions. The furniture throughout is on castors, making it easy to move around.
The classrooms all face out, with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing sweeping vistas on the 400 acre Hubbell Preserve, which has been renamed the Turkey Hill Preserve and belongs to the Town of Orange for passive recreation.
Carved out of the 400 acres were the 47 acres the university bought, with office buildings, two large ponds and sloping lawns toward the Merritt Parkway.
“It’s a delightful place,” Davis said. She saw deer and even a fox, yet it is only minutes away from urban centers.
Other than the woods the campus is surrounded by a residential area, which was one reason the university chose to put its graduate students here. “It seemed to be a good fit,” said Provost Dan May during the tour.
The charm of the new campus is not only its natural setting, but the executive environment, which the university kept intact for the business students.
There is the Executive Board Room with its leather chairs, there is a soundproof “war room,” with clocks showing the time in different parts of the world. The “war room” will be used for faculty meetings, May said.
The core of the Hubbell building, a square built around an open atrium, stems from the
1960s. It has two wings, one to the North, added in the 70s, the other to the South, added in the 1980s.
The south wing has been left essentially unchanged, so far, except for a cafeteria. This wing, too, is built around an atrium, but this one is a covered Green, with plants thriving under the skylight.
Future plans involve a conference center in that southern wing; also an auditorium with a capacity of about 90.
The campus will be used for retreats both for students and faculty. There are plans to build a ropes course – a popular learning tool to teach communication and interdependence in overcoming physical challenges.
When fully built out, the campus will support approximately 400 students on any given day, said Provost May. Currently there are some 120 students who attend classes. No dorms are envisioned for this site.
The new campus has ”allowed an element of growth in our program,” said Dean Davis. However, the philosophy is to stay a “small but premier” program. If their numbers were to change substantially, it would change the character of the school.
Instead, space is available for clubs and for small-group meetings on an as-needed basis.
“Right now it’s a bit of a blank canvass,” she said.