George I. Alden Trust Awards Million Toward New WPI Academic Building

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. -- WPI announced a $5 million grant from the George I. Alden Trust of Worcester which will support one of the University's highest academic priorities, the construction of a new academic building. The grant equals the largest gift in WPI's history, the $5 million bequest from George C. Gordon, Class of 1895. Received in 1965, that gift funded the construction of WPI's Gordon Library.

"WPI is elated about the Alden Trust for their support of this 33,000-square-foot building which will fill critical campus academic needs," notes WPI President Edward A. Parrish. "The Trust's past generosity has allowed WPI to build and refurbish WPI facilities of unsurpassed excellence; this gift continues that legacy." Notable among the projects the Alden Trust has supported are the construction of Alden Memorial Hall in 1939, the renovation of Salisbury Laboratories in the 1970s, the construction of Fuller Laboratories in the 1980s, and the renovation of Alden Memorial Hall and Higgins Laboratories in the 1990s.

"This new facility will provide classroom space to alleviate critical overutilization of current space, faculty offices so necessary to WPI's commitment to a project-based education, which requires a great deal of one-on-one engagement between professors and students, and unified space for selected academic departments," Parrish continues. He said the building will feature technologically advanced classrooms equipped for the educational technology of the future. Building design will begin immediately, with construction expected to start in the fall of 1999. The academic facility's cost is estimated at $7.8 million.

The George I. Alden Trust, created by one of WPI's original faculty members, is by far WPI's greatest benefactor. Since 1920 the Alden Trust has awarded WPI $10.8 million, not including this most recent bequest.

Francis H. Dewey III, chairman of the George I. Alden Trust, said, "This new academic building will affirm George Alden's greatest passion: focusing on philanthropic endeavors involving education. Alden understood the rewards of giving to the institution where his career began and flourished, and the Trust believes that this academic structure will continue that tradition."

The planned location of the new academic building is the north end of the parking lot on Boynton Street below Gordon Library and adjacent to Kaven Hall, says John E. Miller, director of physical plant. "This will be one of WPI's few buildings to face the Worcester public and campus visitor," says Miller. "The site demands an architecturally appealing building that suitably fits the site, is received well by our neighbors, and invites the interests of visitors." This facility could also be linked to a new adjacent parking garage, providing safe access, particularly in the evening or during inclement weather.

Some of the features planned for the new academic building include two state-of-the-art multimedia classrooms fully equipped with modern educational technologies ranging from video delivery to computer ports, a traditional classroom, and smaller seminar rooms. WPI expects the classrooms, particularly the multimedia classrooms, to be in high demand hosting eight classes per day as well as evening classes. Additionally, increased faculty office space will ease overcrowding in other academic buildings.

Meanwhile, planning continues on another planned construction project, the WPI campus center. The Physical Facilities Committee of the WPI Board of Trustees met in December and January to discuss building location, space allocation, and overall design of that building. The campus center has now moved to the design and development phase, according to Miller.