At nearly 120 years old, Western Connecticut State University looks pretty good for its age. The university has grown into two campuses since its birth, and constantly improves by updating facilities, classrooms and technology.
The list is endless over the years; many can remember when the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPAC) opened in 2014, showing the university’s commitment to the arts. Labs in the science and nursing programs were added and renovated over time, the O’Neill Center and stadium support WCSU athletics, and technology has been consistently upgraded to address the requirements of a modern world, which proved to be crucial during the pandemic’s need for virtual education and the current trend of more online degrees.
Recent activities show WCSU’s commitment to student life quality. A major example is the complete transformation of Berkshire Hall into the new Student Center with a reimagined, vibrant and exciting dining facility and recreation center with an Urban Renewal styling. Construction began in the summer of 2021, and the project is expected to be completed by spring 2023.
When Berkshire Hall reopens, it will have a new “glass box” design facing the quad, which will showcase the front interior of the building’s main level and house a fireplace and coffee lounges, as well as the Student Lounge west lobby. Beyond the lounges and lobby will be the primary on-campus dining facility.
Everything that is food-related will be in this new Student Center, including grab-and-go and late-night prepared food. The dining room will seat over 300 people and will provide a robust selection of meal options with separate prep stations including a brick pizza oven, grill, pasta bar, soup and salad bar, sandwich station and a variety of hot entrees as well as gluten free/vegan stations. A barista-styled coffee shop with paninis, smoothies and to-go eating options with an abundance of casual seating and lounge areas will invite students from the quad through a two-story glass façade.
Berkshire Hall will also feature a renovated and expanded recreation center. The multi-purpose gymnasium currently located there will remain in the same location, with some minor renovations and alterations that will include a full-sized indoor basketball and volleyball court and Recreation Department offices. A new athletic training facility also will be created for athletic trainers to help student athletes with injuries and recreation. The facility will allow the Department of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences (HPX) to offer student internship opportunities. The renovated building will also feature two studios for HPX classes and practice spaces for cheerleading, dance and other recreational purposes. Locker rooms and showers, and a new state-of-the-art cardio fitness center, will also be available for student, faculty and staff use.
This $24 million dollar investment in WCSU’s future proves that the university always works to improve student life and education. In addition to this project, Newbury Hall is being outfitted with an expanded 10,000 square foot Wellness Center, which will be ready in late fall 2022. The space will house Health Services with exam rooms, counseling offices and the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. alcohol and substance abuse prevention program. Plans are in place to replace two elevators in the building.
Also, Fairfield Hall’s main lobby and adjacent Student Lounge received a facelift with fresh paint and new flooring, furniture and a gas fireplace, as well as a new patio area with seating and a fire pit. The main lobby will have smaller seating areas with large screen TVs adaptable for gaming connections. The Student Lounge will be used for gaming activities and have a large screen TV with theater-style seating. Both spaces contain study and conversation areas. Pinney Hall work includes a new roof, windows and mechanical and security equipment, as well as improvements to the main lobby. The design for this work is underway and construction is expected to begin in spring of 2024.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.