The University of Bridgeport (UB) has announced that it will begin renovations today on Bauer Hall, home of the University’s new Innovation Center for student-entrepreneurs and Connecticut-based businesses seeking to expand.
The development of Bauer Hall—a former dorm that was once the estate of industrialist William Grippin—is made possible by a $2.3 million donation to the school by Fairfield County philanthropists Mr. and Mrs. George Bauer.
Mr. Bauer will join the University of Bridgeport this afternoon at 3 p.m. to mark the commencement of construction at Bauer Hall, which is slated to open in 2018. It is located at 82 Marina Park Circle.
Mr. Bauer and his wife, Carol, said they continually look for opportunities to give back to local communities while creating a culture of advancement. As a young boy growing up on a farm in Missouri, Mr. Bauer hitchhiked to a one-room schoolhouse because there were no school buses. Nonetheless, his parents taught him to serve others and to give what he could.
Those early lessons have guided his life and his philanthropy.
After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, Mr. Bauer served as an officer in the military, enjoyed a successful 31-year career at IBM, and taught computer science at the University of Georgia. He later began a second career as an investment banker and started a number of businesses, all related to computers and technology.
“I strongly believe that those who are fortunate have a responsibility to properly use that good fortune,” said Mr. Bauer. “My wife and I consider ourselves stewards—we are responsible for contributing to the common good, and the way we see it, universities like UB represent the common good and all the ways that we can invest in the future.”
Mr. Bauer was especially drawn to UB because of its economic and cultural diversity. With students from 81 countries, the University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most diverse universities in the United States.
Plans to house the Innovation Center at Bauer Hall came to fruition after Mr. Bauer and the University explored ways to support UB student-entrepreneurs as well as regional start-ups. Both, Mr. Bauer felt, are critical to spurring economic growth within the city and region of Bridgeport.
“We feel humbled to have such a prominent and impactful community figure like Mr. Bauer realize the potential of UB’s students, programs, and resources,” said UB President Neil A. Salonen. “His incredible generosity will allow ideas to come to life, businesses to form, and successful futures to be paved.”
The Innovation Center will consist of 8,600 square feet of offices, conference rooms, brainstorming booths, an International Trade Center, a Professional Service Office, a maker space, and room for additional resources throughout four floors. Experts—including attorneys, engineers, financial consultants, marketing professionals, and more—will be on hand at the Center to help guide entrepreneurs.
The Innovation Center will also become home to UB’s existing venture programs, including the Student Entrepreneur Center (SEC) that has helped launch 11 student-owned companies in two years, and the UB Incubator, the first on-campus incubator in Fairfield County.
“Our student body consists of some of the best and brightest, and there are so many cool, innovative things happening on UB’s campus at any given time,” said Robert Cottle, vice president for university relations. “For Mr. Bauer to see that and want to invest in it, will not only change the lives of these entrepreneurs, but will also better the lives of those who will be impacted by the inventions and businesses that are sure to come out of the Innovation Center.”