NEW HAVEN — First Niagara Financial Group and Yale-New Haven Hospital Thursday announced donations of $500,000 each to the Gateway Community College Foundation for the new downtown campus.

First Niagara Financial Group acquired NewAlliance Bank in the spring and is the parent company of its successor, First Niagara Bank.

Yale-New Haven Hospital CEO and President Marna Borgstrom, left, and First Niagara Senior Vice President Paul McCraven at the Gateway Community College construction site in New Haven before announcing Thursday that the hospital and the bank will each give $500,000 to the Gateway Community College Foundation. Photo by Peter Hvizdak / New Haven Register

Dorsey L. Kendrick, Gateway president, said the contributions are part of the “Your College. Your Future,” fundraising campaign that kicks off Thursday.

“Our students are so deserving,” Kendrick said. “What they have now and what they’re going to have are worlds apart.”

The foundation will recognize the two donors by giving their names to two areas of the campus under construction: Gateway’s Nursing Suite will bear the name of Y-NH, while the library will be named for First Niagara.

Marna Borgstrom, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, said Yale hired 14 of 24 graduates from the inaugural class of Gateway’s nursing program in 2004. “It’s an exciting moment for Gateway. As you look around, you get a sense of promise in this facility,” Borgstrom said, while standing in construction space that will become a high-tech library.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our association with Gateway,” she said. The hospital has hired 111 nursing graduates since 2004.

Paul McCraven, senior vice president of community development for First Niagara and a board member of Gateway’s foundation, said the new facility would connect students with the resources of the community.

Kendrick said classes are scheduled to start at the $198 million campus next fall. It will have 90 general purpose classrooms, 10 meeting spaces, 22 computer labs, 12 science laboratories, library, cafeteria, bookstore, art gallery and several centers: early learning, health, culinary arts, literacy volunteers, small business and multipurpose community.

Clara Ogbaa, director of library services, said the library will have a main level featuring what’s called a “Learning Commons” and a lower level more suited for independent reading and study. Both levels will have book stacks.

Gateway will increase its number of group study rooms from two to eight. “These awards will help us transform the traditional library we have now into a 21st century library,” Ogbaa said.

The Learning Commons will have collaborative stations with conference tables and chairs and a shared computer, so students can engage in group study.

Gateway has more than 11,000 full- and part-time students. Kendrick said the college will have the potential to serve more students at the new campus, bounded by North Frontage Road, Church, Crown and Temple streets.

“It has taken a long time to get us to this day,” Kendrick said, adding that many people have played a role in bringing the move from Sargent Drive in New Haven and a North Haven campus.

“We haven’t decided the future of the other buildings,” she said.

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