During the virtual unveiling of the University’s Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation, the University community celebrated the creation of the cutting-edge facility in the heart of campus and the myriad learning experiences it will cultivate for students of all disciplines.
August 27, 2020
Tiara Starks ’22 is looking forward to the many opportunities she will have in the University’s new Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation. A communication major minoring in business management, she is especially excited to work with the cutting-edge equipment in the high-tech communication studio and to collaborating with her business classmates in the building’s new “huddle rooms.”
“We’re really eager to work in this beautifully designed center with state-of-the-art equipment,” she said. “We’re also excited because it truly is a multidisciplinary space. The Center belongs to all of us.”
Starks spoke on behalf of her fellow students as part of the virtual grand opening of the Bergami Center, which took place on the second day of classes for the Fall 2020 semester. The program featured a celebratory ribbon-cutting, a virtual tour of the building, and a conversation featuring theoretical physicist, futurist, and best-selling author Michio Kaku. It brought together approximately 400 students, faculty, staff, supporters, and alumni via Zoom.
Named in honor of longtime University benefactors Samuel S. Bergami Jr. ’85 EMBA, ’02 Hon. and Lois Bergami, who contributed a leadership gift, the Bergami Center was also supported by donations from hundreds of alumni, staff, and faculty members.
As part of his remarks, President Steven H. Kaplan spoke about Sam and his distinguished career that saw him move up the ranks from a tool and die apprentice to becoming president and CEO of Alinabal, a Milford-based diversified manufacturer that employs 400 people. He was the second to last person without a bachelor’s degree admitted to the University’s Executive MBA program on the basis of his work experience and leadership potential.
“Sam is a remarkable human being, he’s generous, he’s compassionate, and he’s highly intelligent,” said President Kaplan. “This building is a testament to his goal to help others, improve humanity, and improve the lot of human kind.”
‘What gives me great confidence in the future is these students’
President Kaplan also touched on Sam’s passion for science, innovation, and exploration and how it is embodied in the Bergami Center, a facility he called one of the finest academic spaces in the country.
“This building’s state-of-the-art science learning spaces, its technologically advanced ‘smart’ classrooms, and all of its additional pioneering features will provide an exceptional environment for our students to learn, create, and collaborate with each other,” said President Kaplan. “Most importantly, it will provide even more opportunities for our students to develop the same forward-thinking mindset that Sam has demonstrated throughout his distinguished career. I am most grateful for Sam and Lois’s support, which is making this important initiative a reality.”
The $35-million, 45,000 square-foot Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation sits at the heart of the University’s campus, adjacent to Buckman Hall, home to the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering. It features collaborative classrooms, innovative engineering and science labs, video production studios, a makerspace, and an esports training and competition space dubbed “The Stable.”
Sam and Lois Bergami had an opportunity to tour the Bergami Center prior to the grand opening, and a video of them cutting the ribbon was part of the virtual ceremony that, coincidentally, took place on Sam’s 76th birthday.
“In these uncertain times we are facing, what gives me great confidence in the future is these students, our future leaders who will undoubtedly leave their mark on the world,” said Samuel Bergami, a longtime member of the University’s Board of Governors and a former Board chair. “This is truly a humbling day for Lois and me to see the vision of this facility become a reality.”
‘This building was really designed for students’
The virtual grand opening of the Bergami Center also featured a discussion and question and answer session with Kaku, the author of four New York Times best-selling books, and an individual who Sam Bergami has long admired. Kaku discussed his past, including how he became interested in science as a kid, as well as what he expects for the future, discussing topics such as quantum computers, medicine, and art. He also stressed the importance of science education.
“We are born scientists, wondering what makes the sun shine,” he said. “Most people think that science is giving names to birds. You have to know some names, of course, but that’s not science. Science tries to understand why things are happening, how they are happening, to go deeper than simply giving a name to something.”
The facility and the area around the building were designed to foster an innovative spirit that encourages students from across all fields of study to collaborate, conceive, and create. Starks, the communication major who spoke as part of the virtual event, and her classmates began using the Bergami Center at the beginning of the semester, and she’s looking forward to the opportunities it will continue to provide for them – and for future generations of students.
“It will allow us to collaborate with each other in ways we can’t begin to imagine,” said Starks. “This building was really designed for students, and I can’t wait to start exploring.”