College releases first plans for new Welcome Center


Bill Furlong/Courtesy

The new Welcome Center will be located at the site of the old bookstore next to the coffee shop

Juliann Guerra, News Editor

In terms of construction, cranes and concrete, Saint Anselm College never stays quiet for long.  With the completion of the Roger & Francine Jean Student Center Complex, the next project includes a new Welcome Center to introduce prospective students to campus.  Saint Anselm College is the last institute in its competitive set to build a center like this one. The building will be located where the current Jean Building stands.

“The College discussed constructing a Welcome Center as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 capital projects,” says Bill furlong, Interim VP and CFO of the Finance Office. “As is typical with any capital project, this request was vetted by the Budget Advisory Committee, the President’s Cabinet, and finally by the Board of Trustees.  This entire process typically takes about 6-8 months from request to approval.”

“It’s something that’s been in conversation for a while,” adds Michael Iorio, director of Admissions. “Admissions has advocated for a Welcome Center because it is something we do feel as though we need.”

Prospective student visits to Saint Anselm College have increased by 57% since 2012.  Typically, a prospective student comes to campus with at least one parent, but sometimes more than one and maybe a tagalong sibling or two.

“The current presentation space holds 38 people, but if we have more people than that we often move to another space, such as Perini Lecture Hall or the Jean Building Auditorium,” says Iorio. “The offices we currently have all range in sizes, which means the interview rooms are really small.  We can’t share spaces because when we’re meeting with families it’s one on one. Plus, the bulk of visits happen during the summer and Alumni has a tendency to be very warm.”

Currently, The Office of Admissions is located throughout the first floor of Alumni Hall, but once the Welcome Center is complete the entire office will move into the new building.

“The Welcome Center will be a two story brick structure that will include a presentation room as well as informal gathering space,” says Furlong.  “The Office of Admissions will relocate from the first floor of Alumni Hall to the second floor of the new Welcome Center.”

“The new Welcome Center will allow for one cohesive space that will grant a strong visitation experience,” adds Iorio.  “It will also be good for the Admissions Team, giving us a good environment for team bonding. And, once Admissions moves up, there will be open real estate in Alumni Hall.”

“After a Request for Proposal process, Eckman Construction (the same firm that constructed the Student Center) was selected as the design/build firm,” Furlong states.  “Construction is set to begin this summer and expected to last twelve to eighteen months.”

Unfortunately, with the construction of this new building comes the deconstruction of the Jean Building.  The building has been standing for almost one hundred years and has served many purposes throughout history. The building was used during both World Wars before being bought by Saint Anselm College from the Federal Works Agency to be used as classrooms, the base for the computer science program, and as its final use as our bookstore.

“We looked at the possibility of moving this structure but given its construction, it would have cost more to move it than to build a new like-size building,” explains Furlong.

“Unfortunately, the Jean Building is not suitable to add a second floor, but it is in the prime location for the Welcome Center,” adds Iorio.  “The visitor parking is right in front of the building, utilities such as electricity and water already go there since it has been a functioning building.  The conversation of saving the old bookstore by renovating or moving it was not ignored, it was just going to be too costly.”

Although the price of the new Welcome Center will include the loss of a historical building on campus, the resulting building will be one that should help encourage prospective high school students to make the hilltop their next home.