Beyond Imagining: Capital Projects

Creating spaces that inspire achievement

Friday, October 19, 2018
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PAUL Atrium

The airy atrium at the heart of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics is a gathering space for students from colleges across the university. (Photo credit: Ryan Donnell).

The clean brick and granite facade of Paul College, rising against the downward slope of Garrison Avenue. The solid form of Wildcat Stadium, emerging from the leafy backdrop of College Woods. Among two of the most prominent landmarks of UNH’s Durham campus, these buildings also represent the most visible evidence of the success of CELEBRATE 150.

But their real power, and that of the other new and expanded facilities for teaching, research and engaging in UNH’s 360-degree experience made possible by the campaign, is as a foundation for inspiring and building the type of excellence that will continue to elevate UNH. High-tech classrooms and expansive meeting spaces that encourage teamwork and collaborative problem-solving. New lab spaces for cutting-edge research. Athletic facilities that allow the university’s student-athletes to compete at a higher level. As Winston Churchill once put it: “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”

There’s something satisfyingly tangible about making a gift that will help bring to life a physical space. Some 1,399 donors made gifts totaling $43.9 million to CELEBRATE 150 in support of capital projects that included the state-of-the-art John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, which recently opened on the west edge of the Durham campus; construction of a new wing on the Jere A. Chase Marine Laboratory that supports both a recently created bachelor’s degree in ocean engineering and faculty research; and renovations to iconic Hamilton Smith Hall — as well as Paul College and Wildcat Stadium. Their generosity has not only changed the physical landscape of the university, it’s also helped to reframe the educational experience for today’s — and tomorrow’s — Wildcats.
 

Paul College
The 115,000-square-foot Paul College is twice the size of the McConnell Hall space that formerly housed UNH’s business programs. Enrollment in the university’s business college has skyrocketed, increasing by more than 35 percent since Paul opened in 2013. (Photo credit: Scott Ripley / UNH)

The Peter T. Paul College
A BUSINESS SCHOOL FOR TOMORROW’S BUSINESS LEADERS

It’s the house that Peter built — with a little help from more than 300 of his fellow alumni, friends of the university and corporate partners who believed in the future of business education at UNH.

When philanthropist and entrepreneur Peter T. Paul ’67 pledged $25 million in 2008, the largest single gift in UNH history, to provide funding for the construction of a new business school, he set it up as a challenge: UNH needed to raise additional funds in order to make the school a reality. The need for a new facility was clear: McConnell Hall, home to the then-Whittemore School of Business and Economics, was not only in need of extensive renovations, but was already beyond capacity for the school’s burgeoning business programs. While the school was known for producing outstanding talent in both its undergrad and graduate programs, undergraduate enrollment was capped at 1,700, and many well-qualified students were being turned away due to space constraints. Group work — a hallmark of business programs — often took place in dorm rooms, and there was no executive development suite where members of the local business community could gather or take classes. Innovation in the classroom was hampered by a lack of adequate technology, and the physical space was a disincentive to prospective faculty members.

Campaign capital projects

J. Morgan Rutman ’84, who majored in economics and finance and spent a decade-plus in New York and California working as a hedge fund manager, was one of the many alumni who rose to Paul’s challenge with a gift of at least $100,000. “From a philanthropic standpoint, the Paul College project is one of the most important things the university has done in the past 20 years,” says Rutman, who has worked with Paul College’s Wall Street residency program as well as the Atkins student investment club and made a gift of $200,000 to support the new building. “If the goal had been simply to build a facility, that would have been one thing. But it was clear from the start that there was a shared vision to elevate UNH’s business program along every dimension, and it was exciting to have the opportunity to help reimagine a place that really helped shape my life.”

At 115,000 square feet, the Paul College that opened in April 2013 is twice the size of McConnell Hall, four soaring stories of blondwood and glass that include more than 1,000 seats in 16 wired classrooms, 28 breakout rooms with flat screen TVs, a 208-seat auditorium, a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen-cum-hospitality-classroom, and an open atrium where students from across the university congregate. But the transformation has indeed gone beyond mere bricks and mortar. Enrollment in the college’s business programs has skyrocketed, increasing by more than 35 percent during the past five years. The college cracked Bloomberg Businessweek’s rankings of top 100 business schools for the first time in 2016, and its online and part-time MBA programs have landed in U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 for the past two years.
 

Capital projects numbers

And then there are the programs, and the scholarship initiatives that support them. In 2015, Peter Paul added a scholarship program to the college that bears his name, donating an additional $5 million to provide $5,000 awards to as many as 36 Paul Scholars every year. Rutman and his wife, Tara, partnered with the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation on a $3 million gift that in part supports Paul College’s efforts to attract more women of diverse backgrounds into business and economics education. Paul’s First-year Innovation and Research Experience, or FIRE, program, which divides students into teams of 20 to 25 for a year-long problem-solving exercise with alumni and peer mentors from the junior and senior classes, will graduate its first cohort in 2019 and has become a model for first-year student experience programs across the university.

Paul himself couldn’t be more proud of the college that bears his name. “When I think of where we started, and where we are now, it’s truly astonishing,” he says. “It’s been an honor to play such a large role in such a profound transformation.”
 

So Much More than Sports
THE MANY FACES OF WILDCAT STADIUM

In the two years it’s been open, Wildcat Stadium has hosted Durham’s first 4th of July fireworks show in more than two decades, one America East track and field championship, one New Hampshire high school football championship, two N.H. Special Olympics, two UNH commencements, 12 home games for the UNH football team, eight home games for women’s lacrosse and 14 home games for the UNH men’s soccer team, including a first-ever home NCAA tournament contest.

Announced in 2014 and anchored with more than $5 million in private funds through CELEBRATE 150, the $25 million facility was intended from the outset to serve more than just the university’s football program. Much like the Whittemore Center, which is home to the UNH hockey teams but also hosts the university’s honors convocations, high school hockey practices and games, university concerts and a range of community events, Director of Athletics Marty Scarano and then-President Mark Huddleston long stressed that the facility would be used for multiple purposes and would benefit the entire state of New Hampshire.

“It is truly a multi-use facility benefitting students, alumni, fans and the community,” Scarano says, noting that, beyond game days, the facility sees steady use as a practice venue for football, both men’s and women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s track and field. The amenities of the stadium itself — a four-level structure that nearly triples the seating capacity of the former Cowell Stadium — speaks to that end. There’s the Service Credit Union Victory Club — an exclusive indoor space made possible by a $750,000 gift from Service Credit Union — for football fans who want a premium experience, and 14 concession windows that serve fan- and family-friendly foods. Forty-two ADA-accessible seats each come with dedicated companion seats, and there are ramps and elevators for stadium access. “While this is designed to deliver a great football experience, it was also designed to support a variety of other audiences and interests,” Scarano says.

That particular mission was one that resonated with donors, 16 of whom stepped up with gifts of $100,000 or more to meet the $5 million private funding threshold. Tom Arrix ’86 and his family donated $1 million to the project. A Wildcat All-American lacrosse player, Arrix says Scarano’s description of the stadium as a “front porch” for the university as a whole inspired and spoke to him. “For both athletes and the larger student community, high-quality athletic facilities are an essential piece of the college experience,” says the former Facebook executive and cofounder of Adjacency Partners. “For me and my family, contributing to the Wildcat Stadium project represented a unique opportunity to help dramatically enhance a key piece of UNH’s overall brand.”
 

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Emphasizing the Student in Student-Athlete
THE WATKINS CENTER FOR
STUDENT-ATHLETE EXCELLENCE

If the main reading room in the Watkins Center for Student-Athlete Excellence gives you Dimond Library deja vu, that isn’t coincidence: the space on the second floor of the Field House, a dedicated facility for student-athletes to focus on academics between games and practices, trips to the weight room and treatments in the athletic training room, was designed with serious study in mind. A key piece of the university’s emphasis on student-athlete excellence, the facility boasts space for 72 students in the main study room, a breakout room for small group study, and offices for academic support staff, life skills staff, advisers and tutors.

Funded entirely with private donations, the $1.9 million center opened in 2015, replacing a small space on the lower level of the Field House that student-athletes referred to affectionately — or not — as “the pit.”

“The center was the number-one priority for student-athlete support when the athletics steering committee sat down several years ago to talk about athletic initiatives for CELEBRATE 150,” says Joanne Maldari, associate athletic director for academic support. “We’re tremendously grateful to the Watkins Family Foundation for providing the lead gift for the facility and to the alumni and friends of the university who shared our vision for the center and responded with generous additional gifts.” It’s perhaps no coincidence that, since the facility opened, UNH has claimed three of the last four America East Academic Cups.

More than 500 students compete as members of UNH’s 20 Division 1 athletic teams each year, committing upwards of 30 hours of conditioning, practice and competition time each week to their inherently demanding college schedules. As volleyball player Madison Lightfoot ’16 noted at the Watkins Center’s opening, the facility represents an extension of the dedication UNH Athletics staff members show to student athletes and underscores the extent to which donors, too, are invested in their success.
 

Campaign capital projects
Michael Locke ’18 performs a visual inspection of an industrial robotic arm at the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center. Locke was the first employee hired at the state-of-the-art facility, where he’ll work while pursuing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. (Photo credit: Scott Ripley / UNH)

Manufacturing a Competitive Advantage
THE JOHN T. OLSON ADVANCED
MANUFACTURING CENTER

For the past decade, the most visible sign of John Olson’s support of UNH has been the campuswide emergency notification system he donated to his alma mater in 2007. The class of 1957 alumnus, who had previously established one of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences’ most generous need-based endowments, happened to be the president of Whelen Engineering, a company that manufactured mass notification systems, and in the immediate aftermath of a tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech, it was something both he and UNH administrators agreed would make the Durham campus safer. Now, his name is on a campus feature that will give UNH an advantage in the highly competitive field of manufacturing: the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Opened in June, the center is the result of a $5.3 million CELEBRATE 150 gift from Whelen owner George W. Whelen IV in honor of Olson, who retired in 2016 after 40 years at the helm of the company. Located on the aptly named Technology Drive at the west end of the Durham campus, the Olson Center focuses on high-precision machining, light materials, flexible electronics and so-called Industry 4.0 — cyber-physical systems and cloud and cognitive computing. The work that takes place there gives CEPS students interdisciplinary experiential learning opportunities even as it helps the state meet the demand for workers in advanced manufacturing, its leading economic sector.

Wayne Jones, interim provost and former dean of CEPS, says the center — and the gift that brought it into being — is a terrific investment in the university’s future. “It’s been exciting to witness the center’s evolution from an idea to something that is going to be a magnet for UNH and for New Hampshire as a whole,” he says.

Olson passed away on Aug. 2, but was on hand for the opening of his namesake center. At the celebration, he said that having his career recognized in such an enduring and innovative manner by a company he joined more than six decades earlier was humbling. “It pleases me to see that UNH students now have a facility where they can help develop the manufacturing of tomorrow,” he said at the time. “None of this would have been possible without the Whelen family.”
 

WWTD

Since football player Todd Walker’s tragic death at age 20, killed protecting a female friend from an armed assailant during a spring break trip home to Colorado in 2011, Wildcats have kept the ebullient, redheaded wide receiver’s memory alive through an annual individual sportsmanship award and the team motto, “What would Todd do?” — a question players ask themselves and one another as a reminder to hold themselves to the highest personal standards. Years after the last of Walker’s Wildcat teammates graduated, the phrase — and its acronym, WWTD — lives on as a daily reminder thanks to a generous gift from Walker’s parents, Mark and Pam, to create Walker Way. A plaza that leads from the football locker room in the Field House out to the field at Wildcat Stadium, Walker Way is entered through a small lobby featuring a life-sized etched silhouette of Walker in his number 80 uniform. There’s a large photo of Walker and a memorial plaque, and the letters “WWTD” are inscribed above the door. And it’s not just the Field House entrance that bears the mark of the Walkers’ generosity. Together with Mary Ann and Nick Vailas, the parents of Todd’s friends and former teammates Jimmy ’13 and Andy ’14 Vailas, the Walkers made a gift to name the Wildcat Stadium coaches tunnel, the entrance through which Sean McDonnell ’78, his staff and other VIPs take to the field.
 

Todd Walker Way
Photo credit: Jeremy Gasowski / UNH
Illustrator: 
Loren Marple ’13 | Communications and Public Affairs | Loren.Marple@unh.edu | 603-862-0600
Producer: 
Kristin Waterfield Duisberg | Communications and Public Affairs

This article is part of the series:

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