SCSU Breaks Ground On $6 Million Biz School

Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Business, which has been trapped in “disgraceful” quarters where rain runs down professors’ office walls and plugging in an extra coffee pot can stress the power for the entire 50-year-old edifice, can now look forward to moving into new digs.

During a fitting break in the rain, Gov. Dannel Malloy Thursday afternoon led a crowd of officials, students, and faculty in breaking ground on what will be the transformation of the former and now vacant student center into the new $6 million business school.

The adjacent Seabury Building, where professors wipe their walls in the rain, will be demolished. Dean of the School of Business Ellen Durnin said that should have happened long ago, as the structure has been on the OSHA [federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration] demolition list for at least a decade.

SCSU aims to have its business students interact with local businesses. Now, it will have a beautiful place to invite them, Dumin added.

If all goes according to plan, work on the new business school will begin this summer and faculty and students move in in September 2012. Neither the height nor the footprint of the building will change.

In addition to classrooms, offices, and presentation rooms, state-of-the-art computers, and a ticker, the new building will feature a stock market trading room.

There future students like Elizabeth Womack, who will graduate next week with a degree in business and finance, will be able to learn hands-on how to manage other people’s money.

Womack is the operations manager of the Ad Astra Fund, worth about $110,000 of Southern’s money, which the students buy and sell and trade, learning the craft of finance.

It’s one of the most sought-after offerings in the undergraduate and graduate courses taught at the school for its 1,100 undergraduate business majors and 200 MBA students.  Professor Robert Eldridge, who helped establish the masters program 19 years ago, said: “When you graduate and tell [a prospective employer] that you’ve handled real money, and had real profits and real losses and accountability, that makes these kids stand out above and beyond.”

Dean Durnin said about 90 percent of Southern business students stay in the state, as opposed, for example, to students at Yale who tend to leave town to make their fortunes.

In his remarks, Governor Malloy said approving the bonding for the work, which is entirely paid for by the state, should not have taken so long. Calling it an investment in the competitive future of Connecticut, he said, “Lots of states would be happy to eat our lunch, and countries too. We need more projects like this. This is just the beginning.”

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