Cerina De Souza
With the promise to reveal the new Sara and Michael Abraham Campus Center in 18 months, a bulldozer revved its engine and dug up a large piece of earth to ceremonially represent that construction on the new center had begun, on Saturday.
With more then 150 people in attendance and a tremendous amount of support from students, faculty, alumni and the city of La Verne the ground breaking ceremony was off to a great start once Stephen Morgan, president of the University of La Verne, took to the stage to host the memorable event.
What a sight to be seen, the once home to the Old Gym now is a bare dirt lot surrounded by fencing and in the center of the lot, a large bulldozer graciously awaiting its big reveal.
In front of the bulldozer stood the podium from which the audience heard several wonderful and meaningful stories of how the new Campus Center would affect his or her life.
Morgan acted as the ceremonial host explaining the meaning behind the ground breaking celebration and introduced each speaker before and after he or she spoke at the podium.
Morgan began by welcoming all in attendance and the reflected on the first conversation he had with Michael Abraham about the Campus Center.
“Michael Abraham stood on the campus and asked, ‘Where is the Student Union?’” Morgan said. Not able to respond, Abraham knew that the ULV community was missing an integral part in the development of life long relationships.
Morgan then introduced the city council members who were in attendance and asked them to stand in order to be recognized.
Jonathan Fitzhugh, Associated Students of the University of La Verne president, spoke on behalf of the student body expressing his tremendous excitement for the completion of the Campus Center.
Fitzhugh compared the new Campus Center as being the bridge that would connect coursework to social life and explained that this new building will be the place where everyone would be able to come together to create memories.
Peggy Redman, professor of education and the director of teacher education, spoke from the reflection of a faculty member and an alumna.
Redman defined the meaning of home and expressed her personal memories of hearing about the many social places around campus where connections were made.
Redman recalled the women’s dormitory lounge in the 1920s and 1930s that is currently Miller Hall, the Stu-Han lounge in the 1950s, the Spot that was housed in the Supertents during the 1980s, and currently, the Leos Den.
Redman said she is excited to see and hear about the many connections and home-like feelings that the future students will feel when they are able to socialize and make connections in the new Campus Center.
The chairman of the board of trustees, Ben Harris, came to the podium wearing a white foreman’s hat and referred to the student center as being a “transformational gift” and expressed that it is the largest gift that ULV has been given and should have the largest impact on the ULV community.
Harris joked that he and his wife had to give up everything and had to move to a trailer park in order to donate an adequate amount of money for the building of the new Campus Center.
Both Harris and Morgan spoke of the day when Abraham was attending the Board of Trustees meeting and Abraham said that he would donate $6.5 million if the University would raise $26.1 million.
“The new Campus Center will be a fabulous meeting place for students and will be a wonderful heart of the campus after it is completed,” Abraham said.
Currently, ULV only has to raise $1.9 million more to reach their goal by Dec. 31. If this goal is met, ULV will be in contention for an additional $600,000 grant.
After announcing this reality, Morgan notified the audience that if anyone wanted to help in the building fund, they had the opportunity to by purchasing pavers that will be placed in the Johnson Family Plaza.
The pavers ranged in price from $250-$5,000.
Abraham soon took the stage and explained his goals and intentions for the ULV community through the Campus Center project.
After his speech, Abraham and the crew from KAR construction used the bulldozer to complete the groundbreaking ceremony.
The keynote speakers and the ULV mascot approached the bulldozer, placed a small time capsule filled with photos of those in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony, which will be placed in the completed Campus Center, and posed for a small media photo shoot.
“The new Campus Center will give La Verne College a better reputation and make it a more prestigious place to attend,” said class of 1957 alumnus Paul Mahoney.
Cerina De Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.