May 6, 2014
University of New Haven Dedicates Dorm to Chick’s Drive-In Owner
Mark Zaretsky/New Haven Register
Henry C. Lee, founder of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science at UNH, delivers gifts to Joseph E. “Chick” Celentano.
WEST HAVEN—You don’t have to look too far in West Haven, or on the University of New Haven campus, for someone whose life was shaped by Chick’s Drive-In owner Joseph E. “Chick” Celentano, in whose name UNH dedicated a dormitory Monday afternoon.
Just ask UNH Director of Academic Assessment Kristy Huntley, one of the dozens of people who attended the dedication renaming what used to be Soundview Hall as Joseph E. Celentano Hall.
“I was 19 when I worked at your drive-in, and now I’m a full-time administrator here, after getting my Ph.D.,” Huntley said after the ceremony to Celentano, who built what once was a little drive-in that his father opened down on Beach Street in 1950 into a local icon.
Huntley said later that she worked at Chick’s with two girlfriends, one who worked there for five straight summers.
“I was very happy when I saw the email” that said the residence hall would be named for Celentano, she said.
The $40 million, 402-bed residence hall opened in 2009 and is UNH’s largest, with views of Long Island Sound and downtown New Haven from its upper floors. It is UNH’s first “green” residence hall.
Celentano was feted by the likes of UNH President Steven H. Kaplan, Chairman of the UNH Board of Governors Philip H. Bartels and Henry C. Lee, founder of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science on the UNH campus, among others.
Kaplan said the dedication was the result of Celentano’s generous donation of 2.8 acres along the Boston Post Road, directly across the street from UNH, to the university. When he announced the dedication last September, Kaplan said the gift was worth about $2 million.
In recognition of Celentano’s generosity, the university also will award annual scholarships in Celentano’s name to West Haven students attending UNH, he said.