Sacred Heart University buys former GE headquarters

Sacred Heart University announced Monday an agreement to purchase the former GE headquarters in Fairfield, just over the Merritt Parkway from the Easton border.

SHU President Dr. John J. Petillo sent the following email to the Sacred Heart Community Monday morning:

I am excited to say that Sacred Heart University has entered into an agreement with General Electric to purchase its 66-acre former global headquarters in Fairfield. This is a transformational moment in the history of Sacred Heart University.

This purchase will support the University’s ongoing expansion and development as a leading institution in higher education. Our strategic plan calls for thoughtful expansion of our campus footprint when opportunities arise that make solid business sense and make us stronger heading into the future. This purchase will support our desire to offer new and innovative programming and expand our graduate offerings. Most importantly, it will further enhance our overall standing and competitiveness among national universities.

We hope to use the property as an innovation campus, to expand our new School of Computing, which is focused on computer engineering, computer gaming and cybersecurity, and to develop programs in STEM fields such as health and life sciences, science and technology. We will also move certain elements of the Jack Welch College of Business to the new campus, including our new hospitality management program that will make use of facilities both at the GE site and at Great River Golf Club.

In addition, we plan to move the Farrington College of Education, art & design program and the University’s business office to the site, eliminating the need to continue renting at Oakview. Future plans could also include a performing arts space/recital hall, a swimming pool and running trails as well as incubator space that would allow students, in conjunction with investors and area businesses, to develop their creative ideas for new products and programs. We also hope to develop partnerships with local health-care providers to provide clinical opportunities for students in the Colleges of Health Professions and Nursing. All plans are contingent on approval by the Town of Fairfield and our ability to raise the funds needed for these projects over time.

This purchase is another exciting step in our growth as we strive to provide the facilities and programs needed to attract students and help them be successful in the ever-evolving economy and employment sector. For the purchase price of $31.5M—less than the cost of the Martire Center—SHU will acquire a world-class corporate headquarters, approximately 66 acres, approximately 550,000 square feet for current or future use, 800 above/underground parking spaces and enough space to meet our needs for the foreseeable future. This purchase addresses our classroom and parking needs and will provide acreage for our future development. The Board of Trustees and our senior leaders felt it was impossible for us not to take advantage of this opportunity—especially for land so close to our main campus.

In conclusion, although we have been experiencing unprecedented growth over the past several years, this purchase will truly set us apart—allowing us to develop much-needed new programs—especially in STEM fields. This new “innovation campus” will benefit future students with added programs, new facilities and exciting opportunities.