The University of Connecticut opened its new satellite campus at a ceremony in downtown Hartford on Wednesday, yet another step in a decades-long effort to bring more people and development to the capital city.
“UConn Hartford is not only brick, mortar, and steel. It is a living, breathing institution at the core of this city,” UConn President Susan Herbst said at the event. “It will be part of the backbone of Hartford: a place of learning, engagement, and discovery, and a vibrant part of this neighborhood and the capital city as a whole.”
Herbst was joined by state and local officials including Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.
Malloy said that over 3,300 students are enrolled for fall classes, which start Monday, and there are more than 200 full-time and part-time faculty and staff at the facility.
The university said the campus will have graduate-level courses in social work, business, and public policy.
Students will also be able to take courses in liberal arts and sciences, undergraduate business, urban studies, engineering, and education.
The school spent $140 million to move the satellite campus from West Hartford, much of it on a major renovation and five-story addition to the historic centerpiece building that once housed the Hartford Times newspaper.
The surge in people circulating in the city is expected to be a boon to local restaurants and merchants. But the greater benefit may be a major uptick of vibrancy -- "feet on the street" -- an attitude of a healthy city and one Hartford has sought for decades.
City leaders hope the new campus will boost the city's image as a college town, helping Hartford to catch up with cities like New Haven and Providence.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the campus is a critical piece linking Front Street to the rest of the city, including Bushnell Park and Coltsville.
"This right here is the heart of it," Bronin said.
City officials are hoping the influx of students will help revitalize its downtown, and many businesses are preparing to accept "Husky Bucks," a university-wide debit card system.
The state earlier this month began new hourly bus service from UConn's main campus in Storrs to Hartford to help facilitate travel between the two campuses.
This report includes information from The Associated Press.