University Alumni Association welcome center reopening delayed to Spring 2018


Mitchell Fransen

The Alice Campbell Alumni Center is being turned into a museum and welcome center in Fall 2017. The building is located at 601 S Lincoln Ave in Urbana.

By Sabrina Yan, Staff Writer

Last spring, the University Alumni Association announced Fall 2017 as the projected reopening of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center’s first floor.

A year later, construction hasn’t started. Director of the Welcome Center project Ryan Ross said construction won’t happen until later this year or even the beginning of 2018.

“We have some funding issues that caused the delay in the project. That’s the only reason actually,” Ross said.

The new projected reopening date is Spring 2018.

“The recent state budget issues resulted in a brief pause, but a significant financial commitment has now been secured and fundraising is underway, ” said Matthew Wilson, the associate vice president of the Alumni Association in an email.

The Alumni Association has been researching contents to include in discovery cases, the focus of the exhibit. There will be 14 cases in total.

“I’ve been finding photographs, videos and artifacts that can be put into the cases,” Ross said.

Each case focuses on a different campus subject from both student and alumni perspectives, including curriculum, sports, music and traditions. Ross said the housing case will include material showcasing the change in residence halls, fraternities, sororities and student apartments since the University began.

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However, some cases are more abstract.

“There are some boxes all started with the letter ‘I,’ so there is one called innovate, imagine, inspire and so on,” Ross said.  

However, the collecting process also ran into difficulties finding required materials such as visually appealing photographs and artifacts that help tell a story. Certain topics for cases were scrapped due to a low amount of materials.

They have also had difficulty constructing the diploma mobile — a large, flowing sculpture composed of donated diplomas hanging from the second floor.

“We need about 500 diplomas for that sculpture, and I thought it would be pretty easy to find them, but it has been pretty challenging,” Ross said. “We still need 300 more.”

Ross encouraged alumni to submit photographs and objects from their time as students to the Alumni Association.

“That would help us tell a good story about what the student experience has been like at the University over the years,” Ross said.

Regardless of the roadblocks, Wilson said the Welcome Center project is still expected to serve an important role within the University by bringing alumni, current students, prospective students and their families together to celebrate the rich heritage of the University.

“It will be a place where alumni can come back to campus and see exhibits that will give them a sense of pride about the fact that they went to school here,” Ross said.

The center will also serve as a location for prospective students’ families to get a sense of the campus community.

Ross said the association wants the center’s opening to be a part of the University’s upcoming sesquicentennial celebration.

“That was what really got this off the ground to do it now rather than any other time,” Ross said.

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The headline has been changed from a previous version of this article to more accurately reflect the building reopening.