Just across from the main gates of campus lies the newest addition to Clark University. Standing four stories high, with faux brick and glass covering, the new Student and Alumni Engagement Center is hard to miss. Waiting to be named by the highest donor in the upcoming year, the building, which faculty, students and staff have taken to calling by its abbreviation, ASEC is home to many of Clark’s key offices. The LEEP Center, Alumni Reception and Board Room, Academic Advising, Dean of Students, Dean of the College, and a number of other offices, in addition to the Clark Book Store and the latest in Clark Dining, a Starbucks called “The Den” have found a new home in the ASEC building. (Check out our guide to changes on campus here!)
The ASEC started housing offices the second week of July, and the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony took place Thursday, August 11th. A variety of notable alumni, trustees, donors and community members gathered to hear from Clark community members, including Jack Foley and President of Clark University, David Angel, the latter of whom spoke about the Clark community “reaching outward, reaching upward” through the new space.
The Building, which cost roughly $17.6 million dollars, is LEED certified energy efficient, and just as notably, Clark’s first development on the south side of Main Street. “It says to the community we want to be engaged. We don’t just want education to be shut behind cloistered walls,” said Richard Freeland, Vice Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. “It says we want to be part of Worcester and part of Main South.”
The center is being paid for through a combination of donations, including Clark’s own money, and a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Energy Resources. The University also earned tax credits that amounted to approximately $2.8 million in equity that it was able to invest in the project, according to Julie Dolan, Clark’s Executive Vice President and Treasurer, in an interview with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.
The building provides two classrooms, and multiple offices and lounges for student study and meeting space, which students have already begun to take advantage of.
Though there are seemingly no downfalls, not everything is glitter and bows with the new building. For Example many in the community aren’t happy. Spend one hour in Annie’s Clark Brunch, the restaurant which sits almost directly across from the new ASEC building, and you’ll hear the curious critiques of community members. Their issues stem from everything from the façade to the new $3.7 million-dollar deficit the building caused. Community members are curious about the impact the building had, and question if this was really the right time.
Inside the building though things are all hustle and bustle moving forward and, as Dean Adam Keyes said “the most important thing is working with what we have.” Dean Keyes’ office, located on the second floor of the new building, is one of those struggling with the space that they’ve been given. The Dean Of Students Office is a resource spot for students who are struggling, and there is no private waiting room. The office has been improvising and has students waiting in nearby conference rooms when they need privacy but it will be something they will struggle to adapt to this year.
Though there are several downfalls to the “office building” layout, overall the ASEC is an exciting addition to Clark’s Campus.
What do you think of the new Alumni and Engagement Center? Leave your thoughts in the comments!