UNH Names $40 Million Residence Hall for Joseph E. “Chick” Celentano Sr.

UNH Names $40 Million Residence Hall for Joseph E. “Chick” Celentano Sr.

by Karen Grava
Director of Media Relations


The University last week renamed Soundview Hall, its newest and largest residence hall, in honor of Joseph E. “Chick” Celentano Sr., a lifelong resident of West Haven and a successful entrepreneur.

The owner of Chick’s drive-in restaurant on Beach Street and other businesses in Connecticut and Florida, Celentano last fall donated to the University a parcel of commercial land on Boston Post Road directly across from Bergami Hall. In addition to naming the residence facility in his honor, the University also will award annual scholarships in Celentano’s name to West Haven students attending UNH.

(L-R) President Steve Kaplan with Chick Celentano

“The entire UNH community is indebted to Chick for his gracious support of UNH,” President Steve Kaplan said. “Chick has been a wonderful neighbor to UNH throughout his life. A common thread throughout his accomplished career has been an emphasis on giving back.”



Celentano Hall opened in August 2009 and features spectacular views of Long Island Sound and downtown New Haven from its upper floors. It is the first "green" residence hall at UNH and has received LEED-gold certification status. The hall consists of four-person double, four-person single, and six-person single apartments for 402 students.

Vincent Amendola Jr., now Celentano’s attorney and once a summer employee of Chick’s restaurant, spoke on behalf of Celentano who observed the ceremony because he was not feeling well.

“He realized how important it was that education remain a part of the West Haven community,” said Amendola. “He also realizes that as UNH grows and expands and prospers, so shall West Haven and so shall its children and so shall its students.”

The popular Chick’s restaurant was founded in 1950 by Celentano’s father as a hot dog stand.

Dr. Henry C. Lee, chaired professor of forensic science and associate vice president of the Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, said he recalls having a hot dog there when he first visited West Haven decades ago.

“Very few people talk about Chick’s hard work,” he said. “Chick is a living example of what you can achieve if you work hard.”

Following his active service in the military, Celentano returned to West Haven. He has served on almost every civic association and city of West Haven commission, including as a Parks and Recreation commissioner, on the Board of Police Commissioners, and on the Planning and Zoning Commission. In 1969, Celentano received the Outstanding Citizen of West Haven award.

James O’Brien, chief of the Center Fire House, read a statement from Mayor Edward O’Brien, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

“UNH has also been an outstanding corporate partner and supporter of charitable programs in West Haven,” the statement said, “giving to events that observe our culture and diversity and to programs that aim to improve our business climate and infrastructure.”

The University has worked with the city to spearhead the refurbishment of Allingtown and serves as one of the city’ largest economic drivers. “Thanks to its full-time student population more than doubling in recent years, UNH has infused over $250 million into our local economy,” O’Brien said. “The city of West Haven remains dedicated to strengthening its friendship and partnership with the University of New Haven.”


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