University News

University of New Haven Benefactor, Former Student-Athlete Makes $3 Million Gift to Support Charger Athletics

The transformational gift from Jeffery P. Hazell '83, '10 Hon., a member of the University's Board of Governors, will support the renovation of the university's Charger Gymnasium that will be dedicated in his honor.

June 9, 2022

Charger Athletics Center
The Charger Athletics Center will be renamed for Jeffrey P. Hazell '83, '10 Hon

University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., announced today that the institution has received a $3 million commitment from Jeffery P. Hazell '83, '10 Hon. that will serve as the lead gift for the renovation of the university's Charger Gymnasium. Once it is completed, the on-campus facility will be named in honor of Hazell.

"Jeff has long been a deeply devoted benefactor and loyal supporter of Charger Athletics and innovative programs that invest in the success of our students," said President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., who will transition to chancellor of the university as of July 1. "Our athletics teams are a great point of pride for our entire university community, and Jeff's transformational commitment will significantly expand and upgrade our athletics facilities, creating a multi-purpose center that provides our student-athletes with cutting-edge facilities and resources that enable them to excel and to continue competing at a championship level."

The Jeffery P. Hazell Athletic Center will be home to the university's men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams and host large-scale university and community programs. The upgraded facility will include:

  • Renovated locker rooms for all varsity sports
  • Increased seating capacity and new viewing areas in the arena
  • Additional team meeting space and coaches' offices
  • An upgraded lobby honoring past Charger greats and championship teams
'I wouldn't be where I am today without the University of New Haven'
Jeffery P. Hazell '83, '10 Hon.
Jeffery P. Hazell '83, '10 Hon.

Hazell, a native of Marblehead, Mass, who now lives in Windermere, Fla., owns and operates Boston Lobster Feast, a chain of three popular seafood restaurants in the Orlando area, and he was the founder of Bar Harbor Lobster Co., the Sunshine State's largest wholesale seafood company. He started Bar Harbor in the garage of his house in 1986, just three years after he graduated from the University of New Haven with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. In 2017, Hazell sold the assets of the wholesale company to Performance Food Group, a Fortune 200 company that is the country's second largest broadline food distributor.

It was during Hazell's junior year at the university that he interned at a restaurant in Disney World. The experience, he says, shaped the course of his professional life. Years later, Bar Harbor Lobster's largest account was with Disney World.

Hazell opened his first Boston Lobster Feast in 1991. Throughout his 35-year career, Hazell has operated seven different restaurants, purchased three different wholesale seafood companies, and owned two food trucks selling lobster rolls.

"I get great satisfaction being able to give back to my alma mater so that current students can have the same opportunities I had," said Hazell. "I wouldn't be where I am today without the University of New Haven. As a Charger, I believe 'championship DNA' is in my blood. I am proud to be able to help the University continue to help students become successful."

'We are indebted to Jeff'

A longstanding university benefactor and a member of the Board of Governors, Hazell, who was a member of the football team as a student, helped revive the university's football program in 2009 following a five-year hiatus. He also supports Jeffery's Fusion, the university's on-campus fine dining restaurant, and the Hazell Nut Café, which provides experiential learning opportunities to hospitality and tourism management students in the university's Pompea College of Business.

Hazell was awarded an honorary Doctor of Business Administration from the university in 2010 and was presented the university's prestigious President's Award in 2017.

An in-person ceremony celebrating the vision for the Hazell Athletic Center is being planned on campus for the fall.

Charger Athletics completed another banner year during the 2021-22 academic year, posting more than 150 wins combined across 18 varsity sports, with more than 300 student-athletes being named to the Northeast-10 Academic Honor Roll following the fall semester.

"Jeff is without question one of the most accomplished graduates in the rich history of the University of New Haven," said Sheahon Zenger, director of athletics and recreation, who will become the university's interim president on July 1. "Beyond his incredible support of Charger Athletics, which is a most worthwhile investment in our championship DNA, he has long been a devoted benefactor of immersive educational programs that prepare our students to excel working in an industry in which he has accomplished so much. We are indebted to Jeff for his generosity and his passion for the university."

Hazell's $3 million commitment marks the second seven-figure gift the University has received within the last month, following a $2 million commitment from longtime faculty member Alice Fischer, Ph.D., and her husband to create the Alice E. and Michael J. Fischer Teaching Chair in Computer Science Endowed Fund.