A new Davies
Approximately 100 students, faculty, community members and alumni gathered outside The Cabin in Davies Center Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new university center.
Festive blue and yellow balloons lined the area and spectators enjoyed complimentary punch and cookies as floor plans for the building — as well as the much-anticipated name of the new center — were revealed. Although the official “groundbreaking” began March 7, the official ceremony was delayed a few weeks until the weather warmed up.
“At first I was doubtful about the construction of a new building,” said senior biology major Brad Lang, who attended the ceremony. “But the more I learn just how out-of-date the current (Davies Center) is, the more I’m comfortable in knowing my tuition money — ‘x’ amount of dollars — is going toward something like this.”
Among the event’s speakers was Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Beth Hellwig, who referred to the ceremony as a “momentous occasion.”
“This is a definite sign of growth, not only for the campus but the community as well,” she said during her speech, referencing the fact that the building will be only the second construction on campus in the past 28 years, Chancellors Hall being the first. “I’m excited for what this will bring, both economically and culturally, to Eau Claire.”
Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, who donned a blue tie with the new center’s name written in yellow Chinese script, said the “tremendous leadership” of everyone involved in the process — the student body, alumni, UW Board of Regents, Ayres Associates, Bray Architects, Burt Hill, Kraemer Brothers, LLC — were all factors in making the long-awaited construction possible.
Alongside Student Body President Dylan Jambrek, Levin-Stankevich unveiled the name of the new building: the W.R. Davies Student Center (the only difference being that it’s the student center, not the university center.)
“I’m so tickled the name stayed,” Hellwig said. “It’s just very fitting. We received over 260-plus name proposals from students, the majority of which requested the name stay. W.R. Davies was a great, compassionate faculty member at the institution, and the fact that his legacy will remain honored is very special.”
Also in attendance of the event was W.R. Davies’ nephew Roger Leonard with his wife Beverly.
When asked what aspect of the new center she’s most excited about, Hellwig only laughed.
“There’s so much to look forward to,” she said with a smile. “There’s the amount of green space that will open up where the current Davies is now, the outdoor atrium, increased space for events, the general architectural beauty … everything, really.”
The event closed with Levin-Stankevich and Jambrek — joined with other members involved in making the new center a reality –— digging blue and yellow shovels into the ground alongside Little Niagara Creek as the Singing Statesman sung the Eau Claire Alma Mater; a symbolic initiation for the incoming W.R. Davies Student Center.
“There’s so much more that will be offered for students now,” Hellwig said. “I think people are really going to enjoy this.”
Construction of the new student center is tentatively set to be completed summer 2012.