The class of 2017 will arrive this fall to a campus that may look significantly different four years from now when they receive their diplomas.
According to the Associate Vice President for Facilities Management, David Frassinelli, big plans are underway to renovate several key buildings on campus. Students will also see the construction of a stadium for the University’s Division I lacrosse team.
“It’s going to be a major upgrade,” said Frassinelli. The new lacrosse field will be called Rafferty Stadium, named after alumnus Larry Rafferty, longstanding board of trustee member and one of the central donors for the project.
Rafferty Stadium will be complete with “structured seating, concessions, team rooms and a press box.” The new stadium’s capacity will stay the same, seating 3,500 spectators, but will provide many new accommodations that are currently lacking.
Fairfield’s lacrosse team has risen to prominence in the MAAC conference as well as nationally in recent years, beating out top ranking teams such as the University of Denver.
“Our lacrosse programs have been growing on national stature,” Director of Athletics Gene Doris told The Mirror in an interview last semester. “To remain competitive at the level of our peers, the new stadium is significant.”
“We really wanted to create a venue that speaks to that talent,” said Frassinelli.
The project has already been fully approved through planning and zoning, however the funding for the stadium is still being raised.
“We anticipate a Spring 2014 start for construction and a completion ready to go for the Spring of 2015 because there will be a championship match that will be hosted on campus,” said Frassinelli.
Another major project in the works is the complete renovation for the Quick Recreational Complex, more commonly known to students as the “RecPlex.” At the moment “quite honestly it’s a great big solid block of a building,” said Frassinelli. “We have the substance of what we need in terms of facilities but it’s lacking the proper organization.”
Rising sophomore Cassie Foxx believes the changes are due. About the current facility, she said, “I like least that the machine I like most – there’s only four of them! … so there’s always a line. [The current layout is] not space efficient. It’s very hard to navigate without getting in the way of other people.”
With the new design, students can look forward to a completely transparent façade, with full-length glass windows reflecting the campus outside and revealing the bustling activity within. Plans are underway for an 11,000 square foot addition as well as a complete indoor reconfiguration that will include a double level of cardio equipment, three regulation basketball courts as well as an indoor running track.
However, according to Frassinelli, as with all potential projects, “This is subject to fundraising.”
Another pending development involves the move of the School of Engineering from McAuliffe Hall into the Bannow Science Center. With the appointment of new Dean of the School of Engineering, Dr. Bruce W. Berdanier, this signifies big changes for the department. “The idea is to have Bannow become sort of the stem center,” for science, technology, engineering and math.
The school of nursing will also be seeing some big changes. Plans for a major addition as well as interior renovations will address much-needed updates for a crucial department on campus.
Students who trek across campus to take classes in the Dolan School of Business will also see changes. “We are continually looking to update the school of business,” said Frassinelli, however, what changes will be made remain to be seen.
With the completion of the Housing Master Plan, no new plans are in the works for additional dorm buildings. The Housing Master Plan included the “complete gut rehab,” said Frassinelli, of John C. Dolan Hall, which once housed the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
The small cramped rooms were not sufficient for modern living and were completely redone to give students more comfortable and appropriate living spaces. “We took everything out of the building and put it all back,” said Frassinelli.
Fairfield College Preparatory School, which shares the university campus, is also planning a major construction project. According to Frassinelli, a $10 million expansion to their facilities is being planned. Coupled with the updated façade of the RecPlex, the entrance to campus will be completely transformed.
Currently underway is the renovation of Alumni Hall gymnasium. “We have already replaced all the doors,” said Frassinelli, “we are now replacing the roof over the summer” as well as “replacing the side windows and side lobby, take the ceilings down.”
“Dress it up, clean it up,” said Frassinelli, “Essentially, we are working our way from the outside in.”