On April 5, Eastern President Elsa Núñez led the formal opening of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Núñez was joined by Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Yvette Meléndez, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; Pasquale Salemi, deputy commissioner of the Division of Construction Services in the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services; and other state and local dignitaries, as well as an audience of more than 125 Eastern students, faculty and staff.
Núñez noted the “transformational impact of art” in our lives, characterizing art as a “vehicle for change.” She said that the building was the last piece of the campus Master Plan developed by former President David Carter, and thanked the faculty in the Art & Art History and Performing Arts Departments for their patience in waiting for the building, which was delayed a number of times over the years due to budgetary constraints and other campus needs.
Mayor Eldridge, whose sisters and wife attended Eastern, applauded the University’s intention of making events in the new facility available to the local community, and said, “Eastern’s commitment to our community has never wavered. Whatever Eastern builds, builds Willimantic.”
Art History Professor Anne Dawson said that the new facility was being well received by students. “We have seen an immediate impact on our students. They simply couldn’t believe they were actually going to be able to work in this beautiful building. They feel valued and respected. And I see great, renewed energy among my own students. Some tell me this is why they came to Eastern. Another student told me that this building adds a level of professionalism to her college experience that she hadn’t thought possible. We are very grateful to be working inside a work of art.”
David Belles, vocal studies director and music professor, said his students also were in awe of the new arts center. He also quoted one of his students, who said the new facility “reflects how important and vital the arts are considered at Eastern.”