Westside’s official opening

Samantha Mathewson

Twelve University of New Haven community officials grasped golden scissors to make Westside’s opening official.

Cermonial Ribbon Cutting of Westside (Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)
Cermonial Ribbon Cutting of Westside (Photo by Samantha Mathewson / Charger Bulletin Photo)

The ceremonial ribbon-cutting took place Oct. 16, at 11 a.m. in Westside Hall.

President Kaplan identified the newest residence hall as state of the art and most contemporary in terms of design, creativity and utility. “This was in many ways a very unique project from the financing project, to the very short time we had to complete it,” said Kaplan, who thanked everyone involved that made it possible on behalf of the university.

President Kaplan attributed Mayor Edward O’Brien of West Haven, who helped revitalize the area around the campus. Mayor O’Brien could not attend the ceremony but was represented by John Lewis, executive assistant to the mayor, city of West Haven.

Several leading people from Wells Fargo NY attended the ceremony. Wells Fargo was the primary credit bank of the project. Senior Vice President, Larry Higgins, of Calif., also joined the campus for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.

“Wells Fargo has been very instrumental in helping us transform this campus into a high quality residential experience for our students and first class academic environment for our students, faculty, and staff. Without their vision and support we wouldn’t be standing here today and we wouldn’t be this far along, because they not only supported this project, which was financed by other entities, but they have supported a lot of our bolder initiatives. They have been very understanding, very supportive, and frankly, very visionary,” said Kaplan.

Three additional banks mutually supported this project financially, including Webster Bank United bank and Berkshire bank.

“These three banks recognize the tremendous growth of the university, along with Wells Fargo, and the importance of this project in serving the needs of our students, and we are very grateful for their vision and making sure we could financially support and realize this important project,” said President Kaplan.

Westside Hall is a four-story, 370-bed residence hall for first-year students and staff. The $38.6 million features classroom space, a dining room with outdoor patio dining and state of the art technology. The 144,000-square-foot building also includes a parking garage with 76 spaces.

Westside Hall construction started last year and as President Kaplan said when thanking the many that made the project possible, “Their efforts resulted in an incredible facility that really was built in absolute record time, and for the bankers, the most important thing, on budget.”

Vice President for Facilities and Operational Management, George Synodi, was thanked for his financial leadership and Louis Annino, associate vice president for facilities, was also thanked for driving everyone towards making sure the facility was opened on time.

Philip Bartels spoke on behalf of the board of governors as chair, in celebrating the opening of, “a remarkable facility.” Bartels first recognized Anemone Schweizer-Kaplan for her remarkable interior design contributions to this project.

When asked how she would describe the interior of Westside, she said, “fun, comfy, modern and contemporary. I got my inspiration from nature – blue skies, green grass, yellow for the sun and orange for sunsets. Overall [it’s supposed to be] peaceful, so to provide the perfect study and learning atmosphere.”

Undergraduate Student Government President, Richard Rotella, also spoke at the ceremony, recognizing the many changes he has observed throughout his years on campus. “When I arrived here four years ago, it was a very different place; in fact this [Westside] was a parking lot. It has been very exciting to see the many changes that have been made in my short time here, and the many more that are to come.”