UM Foundation to Build University Events Center/Upgrade President’s Residence by Merrill College of Journalism Press Releases

College Park, MD — The Executive Committee of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation will seek approval from the USM Board of Regents to build a much-needed University Events Center and either upgrade or replace the newly vacated President’s Residence. The Events Center will create an appropriate venue for institutional fundraising, cultivation and related campus activities and initiatives, while upgrading the president’s home will address longstanding safety, infrastructure and building code issues.

Pending approval by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, the Foundation will raise private support to fund the two projects. The University of Maryland College Park Foundation, Inc., a private 501.c3 corporation, was established to raise and manage private support to advance the University’s mission and goal to become one of the top public research universities in the nation.

The University of Maryland is in the last two years of its ambitious $1 billion capital campaign, Great Expectations: The Campaign for Maryland, one-third of which is committed to raising much-needed student scholarships and other types of student financial aid. The University has raised more than $750 million to date. A new president, anticipated this fall, will be a significant asset in raising the funds to successfully close out the campaign.

“As we all know, a significant and measurable component in the role of any effective president today is to raise funds – both public and private – on behalf of the university. More often than not, the president’s residence doubles as the major venue in this regard,” said John N. Lauer, ’63, Executive Committee, UMCP Foundation. “The University of Maryland has sorely needed a presidential venue in which to host the level of cultivation and recognition events that help advance its mission and fundraising goals. With Dan’s retirement and before a new president has been identified, we have a window of opportunity to take this action.”

According to an American Council of Education survey in 2001, university presidents were polled on the four areas that occupy most of their time. Presidents at public institutions spent approximately 44.2 percent of their time actively engaged in fundraising, building partnerships with other organizations, and representing the institution to stakeholders (American College President, ACE, 2002).

The planned 6,400 square-foot Events Center, estimated to cost approximately $5.1 million, will be built alongside the current residence. With an estimated seating capacity of 125 and a standing capacity of approximately 350, the planned venue will greatly enhance business conducted on behalf of the University of Maryland. The room will be dividable for smaller gatherings. There will be handicapped accessible restrooms, a catering kitchen, storage space, a loading dock, and office and work space for staff. The Events Center will be built to LEED Silver standards.

In addition to fundraising, the new Center will be used for a wide range of university initiatives and activities that will continue raising the university’s profile and visibility — hosting high-level conferences, ambassadors, and guest speakers. The new Events Center will also be located within a short walking distance of other major campus venues, such as the Clarice Smith Center, allowing the university to host events connected to performances at the performing arts center.

The Foundation will also repair and bring the president’s private residence up to current housing specifications, at an estimated cost of $1.1 million.

The needs of the current University of Maryland President’s Residence, a 5,600 square-foot home (counting 1,400 square feet of basement space) built on campus in 1956, are many. It has not had any significant refurbishment since the 1980’s, before now-USM Chancellor Kirwan moved in as University of Maryland president in 1989. Over time, the residence has accumulated numerous safety, structural, HVAC, and accessibility shortcomings. It is the only remaining campus residence that does not have a fire sprinkler system. It does not have smoke alarms with battery back-up on each level of the house and in each bedroom. It is not on the new campus-wide fire alarm monitoring system (existing smoke alarms and CO alarm are currently monitored through the security system). The house has asbestos containing materials and (probably) lead paint throughout. The first floor, including the primary entertainment venue converted from a garage, is not handicapped accessible, except for a wooden ramp entrance in the rear of the house. Natural gas emergency generator, foundation drainage systems, windows and exterior doors must be evaluated.

If a new residence is constructed, it would include the kinds of interior spaces on the main floor and second (top) floor of the current residence with the addition of a garage and possibly a screened porch. It would be built to LEED Silver standards, smaller in actual size, with much more livable space and more energy efficient than the current residence. While the residence would be a private space for the president and his/her family, the dining room would be large enough to accommodate small dinners of 14 guests and receptions of 30 guests at the discretion of the president.

If a new residence and the events center can be designed and built (with all fees and contingencies) for not more than $6.2 million, the Foundation will likely opt for new construction. If the residence and center are both new, the University expects to save approximately $75,000 a year in operating costs and tent rental expenses compared to the current residence.

Although the two projects are separate, it is anticipated the building project and the residence refurbishment will be phased in, with the possibility of some overlap in timing. The projects could begin as early as this fall, and be completed within one year for the residence and two years for the center. In the end, the University will get a modernized, energy-efficient residence and highly useable new space for events and business activities.

“We will likely begin with refurbishing the president’s home in anticipation of the new president,” said Lauer. “During the interim period, he or she will likely live in a College Park home donated by a supporter. We are quite sure, however, that the new president will want to move onto the campus as soon as possible.”

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Millree Williams
Executive Director of Public Affairs Strategy
(Cell) 240.432.8199
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