President Laurie Leshin talks with Donna Stock, vice president of university advancement, about Beyond These Towers and why alumni support is essential to the campaign.Read Story
Unity Hall: Designed to Build Connections
WPI’s newest addition to campus, the 100,000-square-foot academic and student academic services building known as Unity Hall, opened in January at the beginning of C-Term. The name reflects, in part, a growing focus throughout the university on social justice and inclusion. It also suggests the many ways that the stunning structure—designed by global architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler—builds connections that will benefit the university community and the world.
Within its five floors, the building brings together several computationally intensive academic and research disciplines that are hallmarks of what has become known as the fourth industrial revolution. It pulls together several student services, previously spread across the campus, creating the Oliver Student Academic Services Center: a “one-stop-shopping” nexus for students seeking everything from academic advising to career planning.
The building also provides a convenient and accessible link between the main campus, which sits atop Boynton Hill, and the lower campus, particularly the student residences on the eastern part of the campus and the academic and research programs at Gateway Park.
In addition, Unity Hall, with its project-based academic programs and cutting-edge research activities aimed at addressing complex global issues and preparing students for careers that may not yet exist, will help the university forge strong connections with partners in industry, academia, and government—in the United States and around the world.
“Unity Hall, one of the most significant buildings on the growing WPI campus, represents a historic commitment by this university to the future of purpose-driven STEM education and research and to meeting the needs of our students and the greater WPI community,” says President Laurie Leshin.
“This magnificent building is also a reflection of the growing importance of collaboration in this increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, where the nature of work and the needs of the workforce are changing in profound and unpredictable ways,” says Leshin. “To prepare students to excel in a future where the majority of occupations have yet to be invented and to help our researchers tackle problems across a spectrum of emerging disciplines, we need to be able to bring together expertise, ideas, and innovation in new and groundbreaking combinations. That is the central idea embodied in Unity Hall.”
The new building has received significant philanthropic support from alumni, trustees, and friends, including foundations and trusts. In total, WPI has received more than $19 million from 419 donors to the new building, all in support of Beyond These Towers: The Campaign for WPI, the university’s $500 million campaign. These commitments include a $5 million pledge from the Alden Trust in the form of the Alden Trust Challenge. The trust will fulfill the pledge when WPI raises $20 million from alumni and trustees; just over $13 million has been raised for the challenge to date. Commitments to the new building also include those from alumni to name the John P. van Alstyne Academic Advising Suite in the new Oliver Student Academic Services Center.