UW Announces Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center Gift of $10 Million

September 7, 2012
People holding oversized check
Philanthropist Marian Rochelle, third from right, presents a check representing her $10 million donation for a new Gateway Center at the University of Wyoming to UW Foundation President Ben Blalock, center. Also on hand for the donation were, from left: UW Board of Trustees President Dave Bostrom; UW President Tom Buchanan; Rochelle’s daughter, former Wyoming Sen. April Brimmer Kunz; and to Rochelle’s left, UW Foundation Chair Clayton Hartman and UW Foundation Vice Chair Scott Neu. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming today (Friday) announced a historic $10 million gift from philanthropist Marian Rochelle that will support the construction of a state-of-the art Gateway Center that will become the signature entrance facility to the university, connecting students, alumni and friends.

“I did it to help the university,” she says, “to bring in more people, more students.”

“The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center is a culmination of my mother’s philanthropic gifting to the University of Wyoming,” says Rochelle’s daughter and fellow philanthropist, former state Sen. April Brimmer Kunz. “The Gateway Center is symbolic of the many doors she has opened to education for our students. It also will provide a wonderful entrance to the University of Wyoming that will be the crown jewel of the campus.”

Located on the corner of 22nd Street and Grand Avenue near War Memorial Stadium, the 60,000-plus-square-foot facility will be named the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center.

Plans for the Gateway Center project began in 2008 as part of the UW Foundation’s strategic plan and the university’s long-range development plan and has since expanded to encompass all of UW’s constituencies within a premier welcoming facility.

In July 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 this project. Among its members are constituents from across campus and UW Foundation Board members Frank Mendicino, Roy Cline, Mari Ann Martin, former Chair Greg Dyekman, current Chair Clayton Hartman, and Vice Chair Scott Neu.

The Gateway Center will be funded completely through private support and UW Foundation reserve dollars and will be gifted to the university.

“The Foundation Board would like to express their great gratitude to Marian Rochelle and her family, and we are honored to be able to provide a signature facility that symbolizes our half century of strategic partnership with Wyoming’s own university,” says UW Foundation Board Chair Clayton Hartman. “We work hard to honor the trust placed in us by donors, alums, friends and the university, and we appreciate our strategic partners.”

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

“This is a transformational project for the University of Wyoming,” says UW Foundation President Ben Blalock. “The UW Foundation Board is proud of the role we can play in providing the university a remarkable front door. We greatly appreciate the role of our partners in this project: the Alumni Association, the Center for Advising and Career Services, and Admissions.”

The facility will be a multi-use location with a state-of-the-art 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, and for corporations and organizations to interview and recruit UW students.

The center will also include museum-quality space to commemorate the history of UW with pictures and 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 also be told through displays and interactive technology in tribute to Marian Rochelle’s gift and to energy’s importance to the state.

“The Foundation Board has provided extraordinary vision and leadership for this project,” says Blalock.

The center is being 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 USC, UT, and Texas Tech -- will design exhibit and museum spaces in the center. The manager at risk is Wyoming- and Colorado-based Haselden Construction, which also oversaw construction of the UW Information Technology Center project.

The university owns the future site of the facility, which now holds a former U.S. Forest Service Research Station. The property was deeded to the university in 2005 and is the current office space for a portion of the UW Foundation’s staff.

Construction is scheduled to begin in late spring 2013, with the facility planned to open in the fall of 2014.

“It has been my privilege -- and continues to be my privilege -- to work with Marian Rochelle,” says Blalock. “Marian’s philanthropy has lifted the university to remarkable new heights. She is the person who Philanthropist Marian Rochelle listens while University of Wyoming Foundation President Ben Blalock announces her $10 million gift for the new UW Gateway Center, which will be named in her honor. introduced the modern era of philanthropy at the University of Wyoming.”

With this gift, Marian brings her lifetime giving to $18.152 million, making her the largest donor ever in the history of Wyoming’s university.

Marian and her husband Curt Rochelle’s gift of $4.2 million in 1999 for the Rochelle Athletics Center was the first major gift in an exponential fundraising effort that has changed the face of the university and its programs. The Rochelles followed up in 2001 with a gift of $1.5 million for a university beautification fund, which has gone toward landscaping and art installations across campus. The Rochelles also established the Curtis & Marian Rochelle Chair in Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources with a gift of $1.1 million.

Then, in 2006, Marian Rochelle honored her late husband, attorney William Brimmer, with a $1 million gift to UW to create the William N. Brimmer Legal Education Center in the College of Law, a state-of-the-art multi-dimensional space that can be configured as a high-tech courtroom, a classroom, or a lecture hall to better prepare students for practice in modern courtrooms and also to host actual trial proceedings and other events.

Sen. April Brimmer Kunz, Marian and William Brimmer’s daughter, played a significant role in the initiative to create Wyoming’s state matching program, which has brought the university more than $200 million in public funds used to double private support of UW donors -- a significant contributing factor in the success of the fundraising program.

The Gateway Center gift is Marian’s second major gift in 18 months. She gave $10.1 million to the Barrow Neurological Institute for the Barrow Center for Neuromodulation in Phoenix, which explores psychiatric and motor disorders.

The $10 million gift to the UW Foundation was announced at a special luncheon today (Friday).

To learn more about the Gateway Center and to see renderings of the building, go to www.uwyo.edu/gatewaycenter.

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