Alumni Hall opened to the public on Saturday, Oct. 11 during Homecoming weekend. The building had been closed for over 30 years, and while many praised the new facility, some were disappointed by the lack of resemblance it had to the original building.
“It’s a very attractive building, maybe a little austere for me,” Virginia Lund Johanson ’64 said. Johanson had worked in the Theater Department that was housed in Alumni Hall during her time at Knox.
At the opening ceremony, President Teresa Amott thanked the more than 700 donors who contributed funds totalling $12.5 million for renovations, which have occurred over the last three years. She said that the newly opened building will serve as the “gateway to Knox” for future students and campus visitors.
Alumni Hall will house the Office of Admission and several other core educational programs such as the Vovis Center for Research and Advanced Study, the Center for Global Studies and the Bastian Family Career Center. These offices will move into Alumni Hall beginning Winter Term.
“Prospective students visiting this campus will now be welcomed by this building,” Student Senate President and senior Hiba Ahmed said in her dedication speech. “We are going to have to define and reshape this building for ourselves.”
After the ribbon cutting, Knox students, faculty and alumni were able to tour the newly opened facility.
Julie Larsen ’04 reconnected with friends Jo Bradley ’04 and Mary O’Malley ’04 at Homecoming. They recalled that Knox was talking about renovating the building when they were recruited and found the building to be a fitting location to welcome prospective students and families to campus.
“It’s a great space to bring folks into campus,” Larsen said. “It’s a great place for admissions.”
Current students also expressed their excitement about the new facility opening.
“I’m really excited for this building to open officially, because I think it’s beautiful in here and very modern,” sophomore Zooey Brewer said.
Ahmed said in her welcome speech that the renovations mix the history of Knox with the modern needs of the campus. On the second floor, cases preserve important documents and pictures from Knox’s history.
“I think it’s really cool – the juxtaposition that it’s more historic on the outside and more contemporary inside,” Dan Breed ’74 said.
Several alumni who had used the original Alumni Hall during their time at Knox said they hoped the updates would be more similar to the building they knew. Diane Trout-Oertel ’65 and Susan Burns Hellberg ’65 said that they wished the theater that used to be in the building had been restored.
“I think the exterior remodel was excellent and the interior of the building is beautiful, but I would have liked to see more respect for the original building,” Trout-Oertel, an architect, said.
Gabrielle D’Elia Shufeldt ’64 said that the new interior of the building is foreign to her.
“I cannot remember what the old Alumni Hall looked like – not like this,” she said.