Alverno announces $30 million expansion

Alverno College announced today that it will break ground next spring on a $30 million expansion and renovation project at its campus located on the south side of Milwaukee.


The plans include a new three-story, 50,000-square-foot building; a 13,500-square-foot building addition and 125,000 square feet of building renovations.

It will be the largest campus improvement project in the history of the 126-year-old women’s college, which has about 2,600 students. Construction will begin in 2014, with a groundbreaking ceremony on March 18, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. The project was designed by Milwaukee-based Uihlein Wilson Architects and the construction manager for the project is J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.

“Our current campus was built in 1952, and as enrollment climbs and the needs of our students change, we must evolve to meet those needs,” said Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “This expansion will ensure that future generations of Alverno students have the classrooms, gathering spaces and advanced learning technologies they need to develop their abilities to the fullest.”

“We’ve grown into one of the largest women’s colleges in the country and employers look to Alverno to develop the female leaders of tomorrow,” said Mary Beth Berkes, chair of the Alverno College Board of Trustees. “For this reason and more, our facilities need to be as innovative as our curriculum.”

The new building that will be added to the campus will provide space for nine more classrooms, a nursing simulation center and art and dance studios. Alverno’s JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing has the largest enrollment in the state, according to the college. The new art education suite will double the classroom space devoted to art and dance education since nearly 40 percent of Alverno students take courses in art and dance every year.

The project plans also include an expanded and renovated student commons building. The expanded commons will include a larger food service area, a coffee shop and private group study rooms. A heritage plaza with outdoor seating connected to the dining hall will honor the School Sisters of St. Francis, founders of Alverno College. A new “Student Main Street” will combine advising, financial aid, career planning and other critical student services in one location adjacent to the new commons.

In order to finance the improvements, a fundraising campaign began in 2011. So far the campaign has raised $27 million of the $30 million needed to complete the project. The fundraising campaign is led by Paul Purcell, chief executive officer of Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.; Don Layden, a partner with Quarles & Brady LLC, and Ellen Gardner, a retired president of Ameritech-Wisconsin.

The rest of the funds needed for the project will be raised through contributions from Alverno alumni and supporters, college officials said.

“All of us have seen first-hand the unique impact that Alverno has on the careers, lives and communities of its students, and we believe deeply in Alverno and its future,” said Purcell. “That’s why this is so important for the college and the city of Milwaukee.”

In recognition of a gift from the Bucyrus Foundation, the current conference center in the Sister Joel Read Center will be expanded and renamed the Bucyrus Conference Center.

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