Ribbon Cutting Marks Official Opening of Fairfield Bellarmine Campus

Ribbon Cutting Marks Official Opening of Fairfield Bellarmine Campus

The Fairfield University community celebrated the opening of its new Bellarmine Campus with representatives from the Diocese of Bridgeport, community leaders, state representatives, philanthropic partners, faculty, staff, and members of the inaugural Fairfield Bellarmine Class of 2025.

After years of planning, the Fairfield University community, representatives from the Diocese of Bridgeport, community leaders, state representatives and philanthropic partners came together on Friday, Sept. 15 for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the University’s new Bellarmine Campus at 460 Mill Hill Ave., Bridgeport, Conn.

Animated by the University’s Jesuit mission to extend access to higher education to broader audiences, the Fairfield Bellarmine program offers two-year associate’s degrees to students from the Greater Bridgeport region, as a foundation for their pursuit of a bachelor's degree, or as a pathway to enter the workforce. The program currently offers four majors sponsored by Fairfield’s four undergraduate schools: Business (Dolan School); Computer Science (School of Engineering & Computing); Health Studies (Egan School); and Liberal Studies (College of Arts & Sciences).

The ribbon cutting took place on a crisp fall day under the bell tower of the century-old former St. Ambrose Parish, as the first cohort of Fairfield Bellarmine students completed their second week of classes of the 2023-24 academic year.

Vice Provost and Executive Director Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. welcomed students, faculty and staff, community partners, benefactors and construction teams, “all of whom helped realize our dream,” and noted, “chief among our partners has been Bishop Frank Caggiano, of the Diocese of Bridgeport... who has long championed expanding access to Catholic higher education in this region.”

During the invocation, the Most Reverend Frank Caggiano gratefully acknowledged the leadership and vision of Fairfield University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, and his role in leading the partnership with the Diocese. “For those that say there are no miracles, they should come to the Bellarmine campus. This is a miracle of love. And the fact that this place was renovated in six and a half months is proof that there is a God, there are miracles and we have a lot to be thankful for.”

In his remarks President Nemec recalled that for 500 years, the Jesuit mission has encompassed “a commitment to the formation of young men... and women to be children of God who will be formed as individuals of purpose to serve the greater good.” President Nemec thanked community partners for their support of the Bellarmine project including the Mill Hill and East End NRZs, and Bank of America “for their commitment to this vision.”

As the lead philanthropic corporate partner, Bank of America’s $1 million grant will help advance the mission of Fairfield Bellarmine through career training and workforce pathways. In his remarks, Bank of America Southern Connecticut President Bill Tommins noted that Fairfield and Bank of America’s shared partnership spans over six decades. “We’ve learned how well aligned our missions are. We’ve also learned how deeply we care about empowering and lifting-up students and their families by providing education, resources, opportunities and connections, and how much farther we can advance that mission and impact when we work together.”

Student speaker Ana Aguirre addressed those gathered and her fellow classmates of the Fairfield Bellarmine Class of 2025. “This campus is dear to me because it represents progress, education and opportunity...It shows how education can change lives. I extend a heartfelt thanks to Fairfield University, the Diocese of Bridgeport and to our partners who turned this vision into a reality.”

Nick Roussas, Mill Hill NRZ president and owner of Frankie’s Diner noted the historical significance of the day for the Mill Hill neighborhood, and thanked the City of Bridgeport, the Diocese of Bridgeport, Bishop Caggiano, and University administrators “for making this happen. The school’s presence will be a great success for our neighborhood and our city.”

“This is a momentous day for first generation, minoritized learners, and for working class academics on so many levels. It is momentous, it is revelatory and it is a day of manifestation,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Pamela Tolbert-Bynum Rivers, EdD. “At Bellarmine, we see what our students bring to this table of teaching and learning. From this place of authentic care, on this holy hill that was consecrated more than 100 years ago by the people of St. Ambrose and the indigenous people before them, we bear witness to what our students bring to us. And to our students, know this...we see and we esteem the God given gift of who you are and who you are becoming at Fairfield Bellarmine.”

Fairfield Bellarmine Campus Ribbon Cutting 2023

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