FAIRFIELD, Conn., Nov. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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," said SHU President John J. Petillo. "With this property, SHU has a unique opportunity to contribute to education, research, health care and the community. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, and it also reflects our long-standing relationship with GE that includes former GE CEO Jack Welch, for whom our College of Business is named."
Petillo noted that the purchase is another step in SHU's recent and rapid growth. "Our strategic plan calls for thoughtful expansion of our campus footprint when opportunities arise that make solid business sense and strengthen the institution and its future," he said. "This purchase will support our desire to offer new and innovative programming and expand our graduate offerings. Most importantly, it will serve to further enhance Sacred Heart University's overall standing and competitiveness among national universities. SHU plans to use the property as an innovation campus, to expand its 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. The University will also move certain elements of its Jack Welch College of Business to the new campus, including its new hospitality management program that will make use of facilities both at the GE site and SHU's recently acquired Great River Golf Club in Milford, Conn. The University also plans to move its College of Education, art & design program and the University's business office to the site, eliminating the need to rent space in Trumbull. Future plans could include a performing arts space/recital hall, a swimming pool and running trails and incubator space that would allow students, in conjunction with investors and area businesses, to develop their creative ideas for new products and programs. All plans are contingent on approval by the Town of Fairfield and the ability of the University to raise the funds needed for these projects. SHU officials are also hoping the purchase will allow the University to develop partnerships with local health-care providers, providing clinical opportunities for students in its Colleges of Health Professions and Nursing. These partnerships could also mean more health-care options for area residents.