The money needed to restore Alumni Hall may not be in hand yet, but President Teresa Amott is still planning for a September 2014 opening.
With approximately $7.2 million of the $10 million needed to renovate the building, Amott is currently working on turning the building schematic design into construction blueprints in addition to raising the additional $2.8 million.
“We are exactly where we thought we would be at this time,” she said of the project. “What we need by the end of the year is to get above $7.2 million, we have to get as close to $10 million as we can in order to start.”
She stated that the fundraising rate has slowed since acquiring the first $5 million in six months. A portion of initial funds were the result of major gifts, which do not occur consistently or frequently.
“The pace of the work slows down in terms of giving, not in terms of actual effort,” she said. “It takes as much time to go out and talk to somebody about a $1.5 million gift as it does to go out and talk to them about a $25,000 gift, and we have a limited number of those major gift officers.”
The donors of some major gifts include Gerald and Carol Vovis ‘65, the namesakes of the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, and Eleanor Stellyes ‘36, after whom the Center for Global Studies is named.
Amott also noted that a substantial gift had been made for the naming rights to the Center for Community Service but was not yet at liberty to reveal the name of the donor.
“You tend to release these all at once,” she said, referencing numerous offices that have yet to be publicly revealed in addition to the Center for Community Service.
When it is complete, Alumni Hall will house the following: Office of Admission and Financial Aid, the Center for Career and Professional Development, Alumni Relations, the Lincoln Studies Center and the Heritage Center in addition to all previously mentioned departments.
As to the physical remodeling of the building, Amott stated that the college was waiting for blueprint construction documents before putting the building up for bid, and no contractor has been set.
“It’s not always the lowest bidder, it’s a judgment made as to who is going to bring the building in on time and under budget,” she said of the contracting decision.
Previous work has been done on the well-preserved exterior of Alumni Hall, and Amott said that those renovations were done because work on the exterior was separate from what’s needed inside the building.
“You don’t want to start the interior until you have enough money to complete it,” she said. “You don’t start and stop.”
Projecting 15 to 18 months of total construction time, Amott believes that if work starts on the building by January 2013, the class entering in the 2014 academic year will christen the building.
However, she was adamant in saying, “We will not start it until we have all the money for it.”
To help expedite the process, two anonymous Knox trustees have offered the MK2 Challenge. According to documents in the Transforming Alumni Hall donor packet, if the college raises $2.25 million by Dec. 31, the two trustees will pledge the remaining $750,000 in order to start the project.
“I’m hoping by homecoming we’ll have more announcements,” Amott said of the fundraising timetable. “Hoping, but not promising.”
Amott has been pleased with the progress of the project so far, especially in comparison to previous Knox administrations.
“We’re at $7.2 million now; when I arrived, we were at $1.2 million,” she said. “From my perspective, in the 30 year history of that empty building, it’s been pretty fast.”
Nonetheless, she is anxious to finish the fundraising and bring the building in on time.
“When you look at the slow-down, it’s entirely anticipated. And frustrating, but it is [anticipated],” she said.