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By UW Foundation Staff
The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center is the University of Wyoming’s dramatic welcoming center with a state-of-the-art technological infrastructure that is funded entirely through private support. It is a cross-campus collaboration and a place for students past, present and future.
The grand opening of the spectacular Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center will occur on Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Details are still in the works, but there will be honored speakers and recognition of donors, including Marian H. Rochelle and Mick and Susie McMurry. This event will celebrate the culmination of work that has gone into this remarkable building and open UW to the world.
Plans for the 67,000-square-foot Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center project—located on the corner of 22nd and Grand Avenue near War Memorial Stadium—began in 2008 and are featured prominently in the university’s long-range development plan. In July 2011, 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 were constituents from across campus and the UW Foundation Board, including Scott Neu, board chair; April Brimmer Kunz, vice chair; emeritus chairs Clayton Hartman, Roy Cline, Greg Dyekman and Frank Mendicino; and Mari Ann Martin, former foundation board member.
The building will be home to the UW Alumni Association, admissions, career services and the UW Foundation. The facility will contain office and collaborative space for these units as they support and promote the university, and UW’s external audiences will benefit greatly from this arrangement.
Through the vision and guidance of the UW Foundation Board of Directors, UW has raised more than $25 million in private funds for the building, making this the largest fundraising facility project in UW history.
“This building is fully supported by private giving,” says UW Foundation President and CEO Ben Blalock. “That is so important. With all the major agendas of the University of Wyoming, we did not feel that we could in any way interfere with university priorities. We said we’d fund this building, and if we didn’t fund it, then it wouldn’t be built.”
The center’s namesake, philanthropist Marian H. Rochelle, gave a historic $10 million gift. Mick and Susie McMurry gave $6 million through the McMurry Foundation to support the Grand Atrium and the Legacy Hall. Greg and Loren Hill gave $1.25 million to create the north plaza, Roy and Fay Whitney gave $1 million to create the south plaza, and Carol and Ramon Tomé gave $1 million for the Student Admissions Center. The list goes on. The center has inspired many more wonderful gifts from UW’s dedicated supporters.
“The vision that my mother saw in the Gateway is helping students from beginning to end. This building will be a place that will be the front door of the University of Wyoming,” says April Brimmer Kunz, Marian H. Rochelle’s daughter and UW Foundation Board vice chair. “Education has always been her top priority, and this was a way she could actually put into bricks and mortar the concept to help students with their lives, because education is the one thing nobody can ever take away from you.”
“Because we are both natives of Wyoming and alums of the University of Wyoming, this is the important icing on the cake, so to speak,” says Mick McMurry. “The last 10 or 12 years, this university has been completely transitioned and rebuilt. We’re proud of that. We’re proud of being part of it. Thanks to the energy production and energy development that Wyoming is so good at, we have $700 million or more new facilities that’s all paid for. There’s not too many universities in America that can make that statement.”
“Micky and I have been fortunate enough to be part of that Wyoming story,” adds Susie McMurry. “We both were born and raised in Wyoming. We’re both honored and proud to be part of the University of Wyoming’s success. This is where we live, this is the place we love, and we will always be supporters of the University of Wyoming—for not only our children but for all the children in Wyoming.”
The depth and breadth of the center’s purpose are like no other in the nation. Its mission is to serve all students past, present and future in a myriad of ways.
Prospective students will enter the university for the first time through breathtaking architecture that matches their aspirations.
“In an admissions office, we’re inspiring hope in our prospective students,” says Shelley Dodd, director of admissions. “When they walk in, that’s what they’re going to feel. ‘I can do this, and I want to do this.’ ”
Current students will not only attend events in the center. More importantly, they will interview with prospective employers in one of the 10 video-conferencing-equipped career recruiting interview rooms.
“We kind of think of it at the other end, not gateway coming in but gateway to the real world,” says Jo Chytka, director of the Center for Advising and Career Services. “Having this beautiful professional environment will help students have confidence going into an interview. The employers see that not only do we have strong academics and a strong work ethic, but we respect the professions that we are hiring for, and we want those conversations to occur in an appropriate facility. I think that’s a huge benefit to our students.”
Alumni will return to the center as prospective employers. They will also be able to tailgate during home football games and use the facility as a readily accessible home base whenever they are in town. The event space can even be used for weddings and other gatherings.
“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,” says Keener Fry, director of the alumni association. “After a visit to the center, alumni will leave with a heightened sense of pride for their alma mater.”
“The Rochelle Gateway Center provides an enormous opportunity to welcome prospective students and their parents, employers, alumni and friends to the university,” says Sara Axelson, vice president for student affairs. “Having alumni relations, employees from admissions and career services, and the foundation housed together is significant for multiple collaborations and the best possible service and support to all constituencies. I join my colleagues in student affairs in expressing our gratitude in being part of this phenomenal facility.”
The center is not only for students, however. It will also serve the university’s many donors and friends, including corporations and foundations. With its convenient location, easy parking and welcoming atmosphere, it will serve the needs all of UW’s external constituents.
Surrounded by a dramatic three-story wall of windows, the McMurry Family Grand Atrium will proudly welcome visitors as UW’s front door, functioning as the central hub. With its wide-open welcoming aesthetics and prominent university displays and exhibits, it will serve as a gathering place and event space for students, alumni, prospective employers, industry leaders and all of UW’s other constituencies.
The McMurry Family UW Legacy Hall will be the most visited space in the new building, creating an interactive experience that honors the impact of UW on Wyoming, the renowned alumni and friends who have supported Wyoming’s university, and the noteworthy traditions of the institution. It will tell the story of UW—from the founding in 1886 through its vibrant present and on into the institution’s bright future—through museum-quality space and dynamic and flexible visuals, including video and digital displays. Within these spaces, the impact of Wyoming’s energy industry in advancing Wyoming and UW will also be celebrated in a permanent exhibition.
The north and south entrances will each feature iconic statues. The south statue by Chris Navarro titled Wyoming Cowboy will be a bronze representation of Steamboat, UW’s iconic bucking horse and rider rising almost 20 feet on its base. This sculpture was made possible by a $500,000 donation from Bruce and Kathy Bummer. The north statue by D. Michael Thomas titled Breaking Through will feature a horse and rider breaking through a wall of Wyoming sandstone, and the rider will be a woman. This latter work of art was made possible by a $500,000 donation from April Brimmer Kunz and Marian H. Rochelle.
The center is designed by Cheyenne, Wyo.-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 is designing the exhibit and museum spaces in the center. The construction manager at risk is Wyoming- and Colorado-based Haselden Construction.
The Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center will instill pride in UW’s students, alumni, faculty, staff and visitors, who will know immediately that they are entering the gateway to a remarkable university—a fitting way to commemorate more than 50 years of vital strategic partnership between the UW Foundation and the University of Wyoming.