Rocket Hall may be converted into new UT alumni center

April 1, 2015

The University of Toledo’s Board of Trustees recently heard a proposal to convert Rocket Hall into a new alumni center.


The UT Foundation hopes to use the land to create a newer and better location where the university’s constituents will be able to gather, according to Matthew Schroeder, the vice president of real estate and business development at the UT Foundation.


Regarding the plans for the new alumni center, Schroeder said the goal is to create “truly a special place for our alumni to engage with their alma mater,” and an alumni center “really fosters the ongoing growth of what I’ll describe as our constituent base.”


Jason Toth, associate vice president of facilities and construction, said the plan is still in its conceptual phase, and there is not a clear plan yet on what will happen with the various services currently housed in Rocket Hall.


“The parcel of land on which Rocket Hall sits is an attractive site for an alumni center given several factors,” Toth said.


These factors included close proximity to retail development at Gateway, the possible future growth in phase two of Gateway along Dorr Street, and the strong possibility of the new interchange off I-475 at Dorr Street.


Schroeder said the university has roughly 140,000 alumni and about 100,000 donors the center would be home to, and about 48 percent of them are in the northeast Ohio or southwest Michigan area.


“We’re on the precipice of seeing a rebirth in fundraising, and fundraising cultivation,” Schroeder said, “and a critical component of that is the facilities that help to facilitate that overall cultivation.”


The proposal received a mixed response from groups located within Rocket Hall, specifically in regards to relocation of certain services housed there.


“There’s definitely some issues that you’re going to encounter and the biggest one is the cost of moving our media would be huge,” said Jackie Layng, a professor of communications whose office is located in Rocket Hall. “I can’t see that being in the university’s best interest of cost efficiency.”


Layng said that unless the university can create a building specified for the communications department, it would not make sense to move the department from their current location in Rocket Hall.


“If we’re going to move, you’ve got to move us to a place that makes functional sense for us, for the students to do what they need to do in their field,” Layng said. “So I don’t think it is necessarily a bad idea. It’s just in early stages.”


Not all services in Rocket Hall are concerned about the move, however. Will Pecsok,  associate director of the Counseling Center, said he finds no issue with the new proposal.


“I’m assuming we would have enough advanced notice that we could inform students. We’ve moved a few times before,” said Pecsok. “I’m sure we’ll be able to handle it in the future.”


Pecsok said the counseling center could even benefit from relocation considering that they are currently cramped in the office they hold in Rocket Hall.


Schroeder said the proposal has not been finalized yet, and will be taken back to the board for approval in the upcoming months.

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