Expect at least another semester of construction, says Bouchard


Courtesy / Physical Plant

Projection of Gregory J. Grappone ‘04 Humanities Institute and courtyard set to be operational in fall 2023

Patrick McGann, News Editor

Saint Anselm College’s new Gregory J. Grappone ‘04 Humanities Institute is set to be complete for the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year. Professor Gary Bouchard, Director of the Institute, and others involved in this initiative held an open forum on November 10th to update the school community on construction progress and further address what purpose this multi-million building will do for the college. 

Construction has been ongoing all year behind Alumni Hall on the building that has served as a boiler room, power house, studio, and print shop. Now, it is set to be the Gregory J. Grappone ‘04 Humanities Institute. According to Professor Bouchard, the institute will be the home of two new classrooms and will have larger meeting spaces for events and readings of about 50 people, such as Come Friday. The hope is that this institute will become a powerhouse for conversation and casual discussions. The location of this building is ideal for the purpose of driving conversation, sitting between Alumni Hall and the Coffee Shop, where foot traffic is heavy. Professor Bouchard referred to it as “retail space”, which he believes is well suited for the nature of the humanities and that the institute will be able to utilize this premium space on campus for indoor and outdoor events. “Besides adding two greatly needed teaching spaces to the campus, we are creating appealing interior spaces for a wide range of activities and collaborations, as well as exterior space for public performances and commemorations.” 

The idea about the college placing a stronger emphasis on the liberal arts dates back to 2015 where Professor Bouchard, and other faculty members, talked about how to ensure that humanities would remain relevant on campus. At the forum, he described the conversation as a worried one, saying, “We had a worried conversation among the seven humanities department chairs that was kind of an us against the world of STEM conversation.” As ideas were discussed to address this problem, a seven-figure donation made by Bob and Beth Grappone on behalf of their son Gregory made the vision of a home for the humanities on campus possible. In 2018, the idea was pitched to then President DiSalvo, and not long after that plans were in the work of transforming the print shop into the Humanities Center. 

As students walk behind Alumni Hall now, many are uncertain as to actually what is happening to the big brick building between the Coffee Shop and Alumni Hall. Currently, the biggest task before winter is to address all of the underground work. The Physical Plant and construction team have found several pipes that reach all across campus. The main goal before winter is to work on this piping and ensure that there are no disturbances in other buildings on campus because of this renovation. It is important to note that the building is not being torn down and rebuilt, but renovated. While it may be easier from a construction standpoint to tear down and rebuild, Professor Bouchard and members of the team working on this initiative want to maintain the historic look of the brick building, which is a common constructional theme across the old New England campus. During the forum, the Physical Plant showed photos of all of the piping that they have dug into and it is evident that the pipes have been there for a long time. The construction team wants to be meticulous as they work through it. 

While many students are concerned that the project will be paid solely by tuition money, the opposite is more true. The project is largely funded by generous donations from alumni and other generous donors, such as the Grappone family and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The money for this project exists because of the vision for the Humanities that donors, such as the Grappone family, have. They believe that the liberal arts are a vital part to Saint Anselm College and want to ensure that the liberal arts survive in the STEM-driven era. 

While students may still be unsure what to expect come September 2023, Professor Bouchard is confident that students will greatly benefit from this institute and will serve a much larger purpose on campus than just being an academic building. “We are doing all this while preserving and celebrating the College’s history and beautifying a central and heavily-trafficked part of the Saint Anselm campus. We are all appreciative of people’s patience with the construction this year, and confident that all Anselmians will be able to take pride in and benefit directly from the Gregory J. Grappone ’04 Humanities Institute for decades to come.”