RIT’s first Alumni House opening in 2017

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A. Sue Weisler

A private estate adjacent to campus is being renovated to create RIT’s first multipurpose welcome center for alumni.

RIT’s first multipurpose welcome center for alumni on campus is expected to open in the coming year.

In December 2013, RIT purchased a private estate home and surrounding grounds adjacent to campus across from the Red Barn. Renovations began this fall to include meeting space, an alumni library, an Alumni Association boardroom, business center, event space for large and small gatherings and two executive sleeping suites for alumni traveling long distances.

Kelly Redder, assistant vice president, RIT for Life, and the director of the RIT Alumni House, said the house will give alumni a place to pick up a parking pass and an alumni ID, which will provide them access to The Wallace Center and the Gordon Field House.

They can buy Tiger apparel, be taken on a tour of campus or given directions and a map.

“When alumni come back now, they are completely flummoxed by the scenery around them because nothing looks familiar. We have just grown so big,” Redder said. “This will give alumni coming back to campus an orientation stop.”

To date, $685,000 has been raised to create the welcoming facility from 1,000 donors. The fundraising goal is $1.2 million.

Alumni centers on college campuses are common.

Gregory Fansler, senior associate director and director of marketing for Alumni Relations at Virginia Tech, said Virginia Tech built the Holtzman Alumni Center in 2005. The building houses the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, as well as the Grand Hall, museum, special collections library and meeting rooms. It is connected to a conference center that has 147 hotel rooms and a 500-seat ballroom, which was also built in 2005.

“It certainly helped increase the connection alumni have with the university, providing a home on campus for them,” Fansler said. “I can’t imagine not having one.”

Jill Smith, senior associate director for communications and membership with the University of Kentucky Alumni Association, said UK’s alumni house opened more than 50 years ago in 1963. That facility has event areas, two suites for visiting alumni, a library and staff offices.

“It’s a stopping point for alumni returning to campus,” she said.

Redder said the challenge for RIT will be educating the campus community about the opportunities an Alumni House creates for them.

“I want students leaving here to know the house is there and it’s theirs,” Redder said. “That’s where they will start when they come back to RIT.”

Supporting the Alumni House

Alumni have made gifts to support several spaces and rooms in the Alumni House already:

  • Great room—Bill Buckingham ’64
  • Welcome center—Chuck ’61 and Elaine Maginness
  • Board room/multi-purpose room—RIT Alumni Association Board of Directors
  • Bar—Kevin Surace ’85
  • Three-season porch—Jim ’93 and Audrey Janicki
  • Conference room— Bud ’56, ’91 and Joan Rusitzky
  • Fireplace—Members of Gamma Epsilon Tau
  • Main entryway—David A. Blonski ’07 and Michelle K. Nicholson Blonski ’06, ’07
  • Garden benches (multiple)— One by Dave and Patti ’85 Neumann and family
  • Large art wall—Two by Greg Penoyer ’06 and one by Scott Hecker ’65

To learn more

For more details about the Alumni House, go to rit.edu/alumnihouse.

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