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Alverno College Announces $30 Million Expansion and Renovation, the Largest in the College’s History

Date Released: December 11 2013

Alverno College announced it will break ground on a $30 million expansion and renovation in March of 2014, the most significant enhancement in the college’s 126-year history. The plans include a new classroom building, improvements to the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and the creation of a new, larger student commons to enhance the student experience.

“Our current campus was built in 1952, and as enrollment climbs and the needs of our students change, we must evolve to meet those needs,” said Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “This expansion will ensure that future generations of Alverno students have the classrooms, gathering spaces and advanced learning technologies they need to develop their abilities to the fullest.”

Construction will begin in 2014, with a groundbreaking ceremony on March 18, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. “We’ve grown into one of the largest women’s colleges in the country and employers look to Alverno to develop the female leaders of tomorrow,” said Mary Beth Berkes, chair of the Alverno College Board of Trustees. “For this reason and more, our facilities need to be as innovative as our curriculum.”

Campaign Details

In order to finance the improvements, a fundraising campaign began in 2011. Led by Paul Purcell, CEO of Robert W. Baird, Don Layden, Partner, Quarles &Brady LLC, and Ellen Gardner, ’69, retired President of Ameritech-Wisconsin, the campaign has raised $27 million of the $30 million needed to complete the project. The balance will be raised through contributions from Alverno alumni and supporters.

“All of us have seen first-hand the unique impact that Alverno has on the careers, lives and communities of its students, and we believe deeply in Alverno and its future,” said Purcell. “That’s why this is so important for the college and the city of Milwaukee.”

Project Details

The expansion and improvements will focus on the following areas:

  • Nine new high-tech classrooms will help Alverno accommodate its growing enrollment and connect students with online learning resources around the world.
  • A new high-fidelity nursing simulation center will enable nursing students to practice skills in life-like settings. Alverno’s JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing has the largest enrollment in the state, and the new simulation center will ensure a nursing degree from Alverno continues to be a hallmark of excellence.
  • An expanded commons will provide a spacious, comfortable gathering place for students, faculty and staff. Featuring a larger food service area, a coffee shop and private group study rooms, the new commons will give the Alverno community a strong center. In addition, a heritage plaza with outdoor seating connected to the dining hall will honor the School Sisters of St. Francis, founders of Alverno College.
  • A new “Student Main Street” will combine advising, financial aid, career planning and other critical student services in one easy-to-access location adjacent to the new commons.
  • A new art education suite will double the classroom space devoted to art and dance education. Since nearly 40 percent of Alverno students take courses in art and dance every year, the expansion will ensure students have the space they need to develop their creativity.
  • In recognition of a generous gift from the Bucyrus Foundation, the current conference center in the Sister Joel Read Center will be expanded and renamed the Bucyrus Conference Center and will allow greater service to the broader community.

All of the improvements will include energy-efficient lighting; flooring, furnishings and fixtures with a low environmental impact; and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning wherever possible. The expanded commons area will also feature a green roof that will absorb rainfall, reduce reflected heat and be the most visible of several efforts to help the environment and reduce energy costs.

The public can follow the progress of the construction at http://promise.alverno.edu/. The site will include the latest news, a project overview and timeline, photos, videos, regular updates and frequently asked questions.