After over a decade of planning and construction, the new Gateway Community College campus officially opened on Tuesday with a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring politicians, donors and school officials.
The ribbon cutting, part of a full-day schedule of opening events, was led by Gov. Dannel Malloy and Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick. Speeches from the governor, Kendrick, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and State Sen. Martin Looney to an audience of over 800 gathered within the new 367,000-square-foot facility hailed the completion of the $198 million project — the most expensive of its kind in state history.
“We watched in awe as this amazing building rose in steel, concrete and glass over the past months, taking its rightful place in the downtown New Haven skyline,” Kendrick said in her opening speech. “Now at last, we are poised to begin the real journey, the one that truly counts — it’s time for us to deliver on the promise and the potential this new campus offers.”
The downtown campus has long been touted by state politicians and education officials as a strategic investment to equip the state’s workforce with “the right skills and talents” for “present and future jobs,” Blumenthal said.
The new Gateway campus features culinary and hospitality management labs, a nursing skills lab sponsored by the Yale-New Haven Hospital, a nuclear medicine technology lab, a computerized tomography lab and a graphic design studio among other facilities.
“We will have no progress in this state unless we throw our shoulder to the wheel, unless we produce the kind of product in this state that will allow us to compete with the rest of the world,” Malloy said. “That’s our goal in this state. And this campus and this institution, combined with the other institutions of higher education both public and private, are in fact the cornerstones of our bringing that about.”
The speeches and ribbon-cutting ceremony were followed by a reception in the campus’s new cafeteria and an open house throughout the facility lasting until 3 p.m. Gateway’s two older campuses in Long Wharf and North Haven collectively serve over 11,000 students. College administrators said the new campus, located on Church Street between Frontage Road and Crown Street, adds over 90 classrooms and will increase student enrollment capacity by 50 percent.
In his speech to audience members at the morning event, DeStefano predicted that the influx of downtown Gateway students and faculty will shift the college dynamic in New Haven — a city whose urban center has historically been home to Yalies.
“There’s another college downtown … Each day, the first thing that everybody who comes into downtown New Haven is going to see is Gateway Community College,” DeStefano said. “And it is the college that will serve our families, our businesses, our possibilities and opportunities.” DeStefano also emphasized the significance of Gateway’s new downtown presence toward the city’s current goal of fostering a “college-going culture” among public school students.
The first classes at the new Gateway campus will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 4.