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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Donation makes SMC building reality

Plans are in the works to build a new $15 million academic building at Saint Mary's, thanks to the generosity of one alumna and her parents.

Jennifer Mathile Prikkel, a 1995 graduate and member of the board of trustees, pledged $3 million for the new academic building. Her parents Clayton and MaryAnn Mathile, former owners of Iams Company, have agreed to match up to $3 million in additional funds to be raised by Saint Mary's.

"The faculty are thrilled with the generosity of one young alumna," said Vice President and Dean of Faculty Patrick White. "She is a profound example to all alumnae as to how they can affect their own institution."

Prior to Prikkel's pledge, the college had already raised $7.5 million for the facility through a $2 million grant from Center for Women's Intercultural Leadership, a large donation from an anonymous donor and through a variety of other sources. The grand total of $16.5 million would not only cover construction costs, but would also leave a $1.5 million endowment for future expenses the building may have.

"Saint Mary's faculty and students deserve a state-of-the-art facility in which to teach and learn," said Prikkel, in a written statement to the College. "Saint Mary's professors changed my life by challenging me to be my best intellectually and spiritually. I can't think of a better way to express my gratitude than by helping to create an environment that meets their modern-day needs."

The proposal calls for an 82,000 square foot building - 12,000 square feet bigger than the current academic building - Madaleva Hall. It will house many mid-size and small classrooms, conference rooms and office space.

"A lot of powerful teaching on this campus goes on outside the classroom, and we wanted to give everyone places to facilitate that learning," said White. "Some of the most important learning takes place after a class when a few students continue a topic with a professor. We wanted to have offices and classrooms together so we can have seamless learning, instead of having to make a student follow a professor back to his or her office, which might be across campus."

Many current offices on campus will reside in the building upon its completion including CWIL, the Center for Spirituality and the Center for Academic Innovation.

The building will include wireless technology and additional laboratory space for various disciplines in order to allow for changing educational needs.

"The new building will house classrooms with what we call collaboratories, where computers are integrated right into the classroom," said White. "We need to be able to adapt to the growing and changing technological advancements on this campus, and this building will allow for that."

Before Prikkel's donation, the college had discussed renovations to Madaleva Hall, but felt bringing technology into the building would make any renovation too costly. At this time, the college does not have concrete plans for what will happen to Madaleva, which has served as the main academic building since 1968.

"We have many ideas for Madaleva, but the issue is not yet resolved," said White. "We're thinking about using parts of it, possibly keeping Carroll auditorium, but nothing has been decided yet."

With the construction of the on-campus apartments coming to a close and the building of the state of the art student center, which is scheduled to be completed in February 2005, White said he hopes to start the construction on the academic building next year. However, building will not begin until 100 percent of the project costs are committed through contributions.

Saint Mary's has hired MPA Architects to assist with the design of the new building.

White said he is excited for the new building and for the future of Saint Mary's.

"At Saint Mary's, we want to continue to attract a vibrant, rich and excellent student body," said White. "In order to do that, we need to have good facilities, and thanks to Prikkel, now we will."