James H. McLaughlin Is WPI's New Campus Center Director

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - It's five months away from opening, but already Worcester Polytechnic Institute's new Campus Center director is planning a smashing opening.

James H. McLaughlin of North Attleboro, Mass., will direct the scheduling, events management and supervision of staff for the WPI Campus Center. A beautifully designed, three-story building where students, faculty and staff will gather for meetings, meals and fun, the Campus Center is set to open this spring. Meanwhile, McLaughlin is making plans to promote and use the center as the main venue for campus programs of all kinds.

"I am very excited to be at WPI as we prepare to open the first Campus Center at the university," he said. "There's something in the building for everyone. I believe the Campus Center will be a unifying force for our community and will be a place where we celebrate the life of our community. The Campus Center will become the place where student organizations, academic departments, administrative departments, alumni and community groups will want to have meetings and special events. We look forward to hosting rock bands, comedy nights, leadership banquets, multicultural celebrations, Board of Trustees meetings, Family Weekend events, Homecoming events or a Health and Wellness Fair in fulfilling the Campus Center's role as the 'living room' of the university."

McLaughlin spent the last 14 years at Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, where his responsibilities included overseeing the planning and construction of the $9 million, 70,000-square-foot College Union and Recreation Center, which opened in 1995. He earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and history at Bridgewater State College and a master's degree in counseling at Fairfield University.

WPI's Campus Center has evolved over more than three decades. The dream will become a reality during grand opening celebrations March 26-30. Located in the geographic center of the campus, parallel to Olin Hall and on the upper Higgins House grounds, the building will be easily accessible to WPI's academic, recreational and residential communities. Its main entrance, opening onto Reunion Plaza, will link the center to well-traveled walkways, making it a true crossroads.

The 71,000-square-foot building, designed by the Boston firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, will include a food court opening onto a patio, linking the building to nearby gardens and lawns. It will include student mailboxes, the campus mailroom and the campus bookstore, which will be transformed into a lively marketplace and coffee shop. Lounges, including one with a large fireplace, will provide spaces for casual conversation. The final cost for the Campus Center is estimated at over $17 million.

For formal meetings and work, a number of conference rooms and meeting spaces will be available, including a large multipurpose room on the third floor designed to accommodate events from conferences to concerts to dances. The entrance to the room will include a tribute to WPI's corporate relationships, with the logos of participating corporate partners on permanent display. Other offices and meeting rooms will house student organizations and student publications. For drawings, photos and more information, go to the WPI Campus Center Web site at http://www.wpi.edu/Admin/CC/.

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.