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UW Celebrates the Rochelle Gateway Center in Topping-Off Ceremony

September 13, 2013

The University of Wyoming celebrated the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center in a topping-off ceremony Thursday (Sept. 12). The ceremony marks a high point in a facility that will serve UW students for generations.

“Even though the university has been transformed with almost $700 million in capital facility projects in the past decade, UW has never had a true ‘front door,’ and definitely not something that reflects the state-of-the-art ideals of students and guests of the 21st century,” says UW President Bob Sternberg. “The Rochelle Gateway Center promises to be that front door, a place where new visitors, parents, prospective students, industry partners, alumni and donors will get their first introduction to UW. It will be a very special destination befitting of the nation’s No. 1 land grant university.”

Located on the corner of 22nd Street and Grand Avenue near War Memorial Stadium, the 67,000 -square-foot Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center is a dramatic state-of-the-art welcoming center.

The center is a remarkable statement regarding the impact of private fundraising on Wyoming’s university. It is funded completely through private support, including a $10 million commitment from Marian H. Rochelle to name the center and a $6 million commitment from Mick and Susie McMurry through the McMurry Foundation to name the center’s two most prominent visitors’ spaces.

These are by no means the only major gifts, as the center’s mission of supporting students throughout their lives has resonated with UW’s supporters. In addition to the Rochelle and McMurry gifts, an impressive list of donors has stepped to the plate:

--Roy and Fay Whitney -- $1 million to name the Grand Avenue Plaza.

--Carol and Ramon Tomé -- $1 million to name the Student Recruiting Center.

--April Brimmer Kunz and Marian Rochelle -- $500,000 for the north sculpture.

--Roy and Caryl Cline -- $500,000 to name the UW President’s Room.

--Toni Cupal and Mike Volpi -- $500,000 to name the Grand Conference Room.

--A group of donors -- $500,000 to name the UW Family Room in honor of Ben Blalock.

--Patricia and Jack Guthrie -- $300,000 to name the President/CEO’s Executive Conference Room.

--John C. and Esther L. Clay -- $300,000 to name the Foundation Executive Conference Room.

--An anonymous donor in honor of the Epsilon Delta chapter of Sigma Nu -- $250,000 to name the grand fireplace.

--Clayton and Kandy Hartman -- $200,000 to name the Foundation President/CEO’s Office.

--Pat and Kathi Rile -- $150,000 to name the Training Center.

--Frank and Barbara Mendicino -- $150,000 to name the UW Foundation Office Reception Area.

--Greg Dyekman -- $100,000 to name the South Conference Room.

--Scott and Heather Neu -- $100,000 to name the CFO’s Office.

--Joe Scott -- $100,000 to name the Vice President’s Office.

“The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center is a tribute to the vision of UW’s most remarkable philanthropists,” says UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. “The passion and commitment that Marian, Mick, Susie and so many others have for UW’s students and alumni is humbling. The UW family will now have a front door to Wyoming’s university. All who come to UW are welcome.”

“The Foundation Board would like to express its heartfelt appreciation to the passionate UW supporters who stepped forward to make this project a reality,” says Clayton Hartman, chair of the UW Foundation Board of Directors. “We are honored to be able to provide a signature facility that symbolizes our half century of strategic partnership with Wyoming’s own university. It will be the hub of a vast network of UW students, alums and friends -- which will help students make full use of their degrees and launch successful careers.”

The facility will be a multi-use location with an advanced technological infrastructure, small and large meeting rooms, and public and social event spaces. It will be a place for prospective students and families to enter the university, for gatherings of current students, for alumni to arrive and celebrate the history and traditions of their alma mater, for friends to participate in the university’s programs Marian Rochelle signs the final beam for the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center during Thursday night’s ceremony, while daughter April Brimmer Kunz looks on. Rochelle contributed $10 million for the facility, and the two added another $500,000 donation for a sculpture. (UW Photo)and for employers to interview and recruit UW students.

The center will include museum-quality space to commemorate the history of UW with high-tech displays and exhibitions that honor the impact of UW on Wyoming; the renowned alumni and friends who have supported Wyoming's university; and the noteworthy traditions of the institution. The story of Wyoming’s energy will be told through displays and interactive technology in tribute to energy’s importance to the state.

The project is a partnership among the UW Foundation, UW Alumni Association, the UW Center for Advising and Career Services and UW Admissions, and will contain office and collaborative space for these units as they support and promote the university.

“Our UWAA Board is excited to capitalize on the opportunity to expand the external alumni relations activities to the center and increase the reach of the UWAA to better serve our alumni, students and UW,” says Keener Fry, Alumni Association executive director. “Our alumni will benefit from the ease of access to alumni staff and services, and invitations to participate in quality alumni events planned to be held in the center. After a visit to the center, alumni will leave with a heightened sense of pride for their alma mater.” 

“The opportunity to host employer information sessions and job fairs in the building expands our capacity to bring employers to our campus,” says Jo Chytka, director of UW’s Center for Advising and Career Services and the Johnson Business Career Center. “Having 10 technology-equipped and professionally appointed rooms for employers to conduct hiring interviews with our students elevates the playing field for our graduates. This setting will immediately convey to employers that UW students can succeed in a corporate environment anywhere in the world. In fact, we see this center as the students’ gateway to the real world and their future.”

“First impressions are always so important as prospective students and families go through the college search process,” says Shelley Dodd, director of Admissions. “This new building will have the ‘wow’ factor and make a positive impact on their campus visit experience. Linking Admissions staff with the Center for Advising and Career Services, Alumni Association and Foundation will create an important connection as we get a number of alumni who bring their children to UW to visit campus.”

The facility was designed by Cheyenne-based Pappas & Pappas Architects, P.C., and DLR Group, an integrated design firm with offices across the United States. The national branding firm Advent LLC, whose high-profile projects include University of Southern California, University of Texas and Texas Tech, will design exhibit and museum spaces in the center. The construction manager at risk is Wyoming- and Colorado-based Haselden Construction.

“We feel that we have truly created a landmark building that will serve as the front door for the University of Wyoming for decades to come,” says Stephen Pappas of Pappas & Pappas Architects. “This high-performance inspirational building will be a key element in successful recruiting and student placement efforts, and Pappas & Pappas Architects is honored to be the Architect of Record.”

“Of all of the UW projects that I've had the honor to manage, the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center might be the one that has the single most impact on Laramie, UW and Wyoming,” says UW Foundation Owner Representative Chet Lockard, Project Guide Services. “I believe that it will be a gem for everyone to enjoy both functionally and architecturally.”

The university owns the site of the facility, which held a U.S. Forest Service Research Station. The property was deeded to the university in 2005. 

Plans for the project began in 2008 as part of the UW Foundation’s strategic plan and the university’s long-range development plan. In 2011, President Tom Buchanan and the UW Board of Trustees assembled a university facilities planning team and charged them with the direction and leadership of the project. Construction of the facility began in late spring 2013, with opening projected to be in the fall of 2014.

The topping-off ceremony, which took place on the construction site, included a beam-signing and a dinner. Featured speakers were UW President Bob Sternberg, UW Foundation President Ben Blalock, the Honorable April Brimmer Kunz and Mick and Susie McMurry, and UW Board of Trustees President Dave Bostrom.

The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center will be a bridge connecting a worldwide network of passionate UW alumni and friends, and inspiring students to be the best as they pursue their goals at Wyoming’s university. To learn more and to see the progress of construction and renderings of the building, go to

Susie and Mick McMurry of Casper sign their names to the final beam to be placed during a topping-off ceremony at the University of Wyoming’s Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. The McMurrys committed $6 million to the center through the McMurry Foundation. Looking on is UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. (UW Photo)

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