STAMFORD — The city’s development boom and robust amenities have been attracting young business professionals in recent years.
It’s now having the same effect on college students.
The University of Connecticut-Stamford presence is exploding with 650 freshmen — the largest first-year group in campus history — starting classes Monday on Broad Street.
Terrence Cheng, director of the UConn-Stamford campus, said the new dorm life experience that debuted last year in the city has enticed more students.
Cheng said 60 percent of the school’s incoming freshmen selected Stamford as their first choice and those staying in the city has nearly doubled with 420 students moving into campus housing this weekend.
“It’s a little stressful, but it’s exciting,” Cheng said. “That combination of residential plus smart programs in an urban environment makes it really attractive. The housing has been the No. 1 impact. It basically turned our campus from a commuter campus to a residential campus where students can really appreciate and enjoy all aspects of college life.”
Cheng said the campus has increased capacity at the Washington Boulevard dorm by adding beds to larger rooms and converting lofts into individual rooms.
The school also struck an agreement with a Stamford complex to house 80 students in two buildings on Prospect Street. The leased units are considered UConn housing with resident assistants and directors living in the building, and they come with the same pricing, rules and amenities as the dorms.
“The demand for housing was so strong and there were so many students who wanted to live on campus that we did everything we could to meet that demand,” Cheng said. “We’re clearly not going to build a new structure on such short notice, so we reached out to dozens of properties and landlords in the city of Stamford.”
The influx of students has also prompted the hiring of more staff and creating additional classrooms. Cheng said the school added two large instructional spaces at the Washington Boulevard dorm and hired about 15 to 18 new faculty members and 12 new staff. The new hires included two assistant directors in career development, a full-time disability coordinator, a mental health case manager, an assistant director in student services, an additional residential director and more resident assistants. UConn police also added five new officers.
The growing campus has also had a positive effect on the city.
“Most great cities have a college or university and Stamford is no exception, and the residential component has improved UConn-Stamford even further,” Mayor David Martin said. ”By allowing students to live in Stamford, the students have access to all of the great things Stamford has to offer, not the least of which are internship opportunities at one of our many excellent companies. The numbers speak for themselves, with the growth in applications to UConn’s Stamford program, but also in the growing number of students living on campus this year. UConn’s and their students’ success, benefits the city as well.”
With 14 majors that can be completed here and the addition of campus housing, Cheng said Stamford has become an increasingly attractive option for students who want the full college experience in one of the state’s largest cities.
“It’s a really exciting time,” he said. “We’ve gone through a lot of change, a lot of growth. It’s exciting for the state, the university and the region, but most important, it’s exciting to have a diverse, urban campus in the state flagship.”
erin.kayata@stamford; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata