WPI Receives Kresge Challenge Grant for Campus Center

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

DREAM COME TRUE -- WPI Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Janet Begin Richardson, who chaired the planning committee for the WPI Campus Center, stands next to an artist's rendition of the building. WPI recently received a Kresge challenge grant to help make the dream a reality. (Photo by Neil Norum)

WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been awarded an $850,000 challenge grant from The Kresge Foundation. The challenge grant will contribute to the realization of a long-held dream, the building of the University's new $17 million Campus Center. However, to receive the grant, Kresge requires WPI to raise the balance of the Campus Center's cost, $3.8 million, in new grants and gifts by June 1, 2000.

The project goal was set in October 1997 when the WPI Board of Trustees approved plans for the Campus Center. Groundbreaking for the 71,000-square-foot building, with entrances facing a West Street pedestrian plaza and the campus main Quadrangle, will be this October.

"We are extremely pleased to be selected for this prestigious award," said WPI President Edward Alton Parrish. "The grant moves us closer to a project that promises to be an essential and exciting addition to campus life for all of our constituencies."

The idea of a WPI Campus Center, discussed for almost a century, was renewed four years ago with the establishment of a planning committee. Chaired by Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Janet Begin Richardson, the committee determined that a campus center would add significantly to the quality of life at the university. The committee solicited the opinions of more than 40 campus focus groups, pored through information from earlier center initiatives, surveyed literature on campus centers worldwide and visited campus centers throughout the region.

The result: A proposed campus center that provides expanded food and dining services, space for group study, conference and meeting rooms, multipurpose rooms, offices for student organizations, a bookstore, a postal facility, a game room, lounges and a campus information desk.

The center will provide WPI students, faculty and staff with a place to explore social, intellectual and cultural interests in an informal setting.

"Even more than a gathering place, the center will be an important adjunct to the University's academic programs," Richardson said. "It will serve as a social laboratory for promoting and nurturing the all-important learning and maturing that happens outside the classroom and lab - experiences that can be critical to personal and social growth."

The Kresge Foundation, an independent, private foundation created by the personal gifts of Sebastian S. Kresge, is not affiliated with any corporation or organization. At the time of the 1999 grant announcements in March, the foundation had awarded 57 grants supporting a range of non-profit organizations including those in higher education, health and long-term care, arts and humanities, science and the environment, and public affairs.

WPI, an independent technological university founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students are provided with unique opportunities to integrate classroom studies with preprofessional projects conducted on campus and at locations around the world. WPI was ranked among the top national universities in the 1999 edition of U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges Guide and was 18th among the top national institutions in the magazine's Best College Values report.

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