And its bump in prestige and academic pedigree was the reason for the party at the Connecticut Convention Center Thursday.
“I don’t need champagne, I’m on Cloud 9,” said a beaming Pamela Trotman Reid, the former college and now new university president. “It’s all official on Friday when the secretary of the state signs the papers.”
The gala, “Imagine…The Sky’s the Limit” marked a myriad of reasons to celebrate, a party made a bit more fun with the gala-themed turquoise “skytinis” that were toted around by a lot of the guests who were in a celebratory mood.
Among those at the party were Hartford mayor Pedro Segarra, NPR’s Colin McEnroe, who was doing live auction duty with “kind of retired” attorney business celeb Peter Shapiro, Republican U.S. senate candidate Linda McMahon and State Sen. Beth Bye.
Besides the university designation, the event also honored the school’s longtime benefactor and board member E. Clayton “Skip” Gengras, CEO of Gengras Motor Cars.
“It’s nice of them to say thanks but I wasn’t expecting it,” said Gengras, who recalled attended a nursery school at the college in the lat 1950s.
“I wasn’t a good student,” he said smiling. “But I have good memories and can still can find the room where my nursery school class was in the main building.”
“The plan is to bring back the gold,” said Auriemma who attended with wife, Kathy.
The evening also marked the expansion of the school and its School of Pharmacy.
“There was a time when St. Joe’s was considered a college for those who lived around the area,” said Monica Serbin, a former West Hartford resident who attended the gala. “The programs have expanded and now it is place that gives women opportunities to prepare for careers in science and beyond,” she said. “Now it is a significant school with a national reputation.”
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