Housatonic Contest Yields Names

LINDA CONNER LAMBECK lclambeck@ctpost.com
Connecticut Post Online

Article Last Updated:05/21/2007 05:05:11 AM EDT

BRIDGEPORT — Fred and Ginger may have been legendary dance partners, but would you name college buildings after them?

"Synergy Building of Education," and "Multiplex of Academic Excellence" are more in keeping with academia, but try fitting them on letterheads.

"Bridge" and "Port" are cute — a little too cute.

What about "Lafayette Hall," and "Beacon Hall?" Try saying it out loud.

That's what Housatonic Community College President Anita Gliniecki did before picking Lafayette and Beacon as names for the two structures that will soon comprise the school's downtown campus.

"They fit the best with the campus. We're on Lafayette Boulevard. That will be the building we're in now. Beacon, the new building, faces the harbor. Think beacon of education, beacon of light. It just has positive connotations," said Gliniecki.

The HCC president will present the suggested names to the Board of Trustees for Connecticut Community Colleges for its consideration. The final decision rests with the board.

Gliniecki said it became clear shortly after work began to double HCC's size by gutting and rebuilding the former Sears building next door that both buildings would need distinct identities.

Students will need to know which building their classroom is in, and new students couldn't be expected to know which is the "new" building, she said.

So the college conducted a contest to name the buildings.

Students, faculty and staff at Housatonic were given until April 30 to submit suggestions for the names.

Entries had to include names for both buildings. The buildings could not be named after individuals, living or dead.

So much for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, not to mention P.T. (as in Barnum) and John (as in Ratzenberger).

Gliniecki had a committee headed by Peter Ulisse, a professor of English, cull through 92 pairs of submissions.

Among the rejects: Hi Ho and Sears; New Haven and Fairfield; West and East; North and South; Freedom and Opportunity; and Beardsley and Seaside.

The committee, meeting over lunch, settled on six finalists, telling Gliniecki to pick any combination but not to substitute, add or subtract words. It seems the committee favored "hall" or "building" as surnames.

Gliniecki made the final selection, then called the winners last Wednesday.

Lafayette was submitted by two staff members in the Housatonic library, Doug Alton and Jennifer Falasco.

Beacon was submitted by Louise Balboa, a graduating student from Stratford, and her mother, Mohini Monteiro.

The four will split a $100 gift certificate — donated by Gliniecki — to either the campus bookstore or nearby Ralph and Rich's restaurant.

Alton, 46, a media technician, said he and Falasco brainstormed for several minutes before entering a half-dozen names, hoping one or more would click.

"Lafayette seemed logical. Keeping it in the neighborhood," he said.

The new building is on schedule to open in September 2008. Although work on the site has been under way for six months, the state plans a "groundbreaking" ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell is expected to participate.

Gliniecki said although the ceremony is symbolic, it will signal to the community that Housatonic is expanding.

"I still get questions, 'Is that your building,' " she said.

As for the names, Gliniecki said they are official but not necessarily permanent.

As part of a major gift campaign through the Housatonic Foundation, the opportunity still exists for either building to be renamed should the right gift come along from a person or corporation, Gliniecki said.

In other words, actor John Ratzenberger, a Bridgeport native and honorary grand marshal of this year's Barnum Festival parade on July 1, still has a shot — as long as he brings his checkbook.

Linda Conner Lambeck, who covers regional education issues, can be reached at 330-6218.