Groundbreaking Held for Gartner Welcome Center

October 17, 2008

Mount Union College honored lead supporters Carl ’60 and Martha Gartner of Minerva, OH while celebrating what will become the first LEED-certified college or university facility in Stark County at a ground-breaking ceremony for its new Welcome Center on Friday, October 17. The facility is a significant project of the Drive for Distinction campaign.

The ceremony also recognized contributors Dr. James ’49 and Margaret (Kinsey ’51) Rodman and the late Dr. W. Brooks ’34 and Wanda Fortune.

 “It’s an honor to help and support Mount Union College,” said Carl.  “I’ve been on the Board of Trustees for 28 years and Martha and I have always enjoyed supporting and being involved with such a great institution.”

The new facility, which will carry the name Gartner Welcome Center in honor of the Gartner’s commitment to the project, will provide a stand-alone, homey environment that will be sure to make prospective students and their entire families feel at ease as they explore campus for the first time.  The 9,100-square-foot, two-level structure will be home to the Office of Admission as well as the Office of Student Financial Services.

Situated on the east side of campus across from Bracy Hall, the Welcome Center will serve as the launch point for campus tours.

“This is arguably one of the most attractive spots on campus, as the center will be erected on the southeast corner of the Campus Lakes,” said Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the College.

Four interview rooms are being incorporated that directly overlook the lakes. In addition, the lobby of the facility will provide comfortable and inviting seating in the waiting area as families gather for campus tours and counseling.

The Welcome Center also will display Mount Union’s commitment to green initiatives through its LEED certification.

LEED stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), this system provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Since its inception in 1998, LEED has grown to encompass over 14,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries covering more than one billion square feet of development area.   

The hallmark of LEED is that it is an open and transparent process where the technical criteria proposed by the LEED committees are publicly reviewed for approval by more than 10,000 membership organizations that currently constitute the USGBC.

Individuals recognized for their knowledge of the LEED rating system are permitted to use the LEED Accredited Professional (AP) acronym after their name, indicating they have passed the accreditation exam given by the USGBC.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Draves, professor of chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry, LEED is a system utilized to certify a building as environmentally friendly.

Areas included in the certification process range from choice of a construction site, energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality and use of natural light to creative and innovative ideas. Points are awarded in each area and the total score determines the level of certification.

“We have sat down with the architects to discuss our best plan of action,” said Draves. “The College will work carefully to incorporate green options for this building that are attainable and affordable.  We will formally apply for LEED certification upon completion of the final construction documents in the fall.”

Ways of earning LEEDs points include installing high-efficiency heat pumps, designing a building to maximize exposure to sunlight, utilizing low-flow water fixtures, buying supplies locally within a certain radius and recycling or reusing construction waste.

“Our goal is to decrease the environmental footprint as much as possible,” said Draves.

“It is very important to us that, as a leader in the college and university sustainability movement, we incorporate green practices at every turn,” said Giese.  “During the last two years, our construction and renovation projects have displayed our responsibility to the environment.   Our new LEED certified Welcome Center is the next step in the process.”

Recent projects including the renovation of the Hoover-Price Campus Center and construction of new apartment-style housing units have incorporated environmentally-friendly components such as the use of recycled products, energy efficient appliances and lighting and enhanced air quality using environmentally-clean technology.  In addition, there has been a conscious effort to use products that are either extracted or manufactured within the region.

“The idea that this facility would be the first ‘green’ building on campus and one of only a few at colleges and universities in Ohio was really appealing to Martha and me,” said Carl.  “I’m proud that we were able to do this.  We appreciate what Mount Union has done for our family and we were glad to give back.”

As honorary co-chairs of Drive for Distinction, the Gartners have provided leadership in many ways at Mount Union. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees, Carl, along with Dr. E. Karl Schneider ’66, has served as co-chair of the Annual Fund for many years. The Gartners are active members of the Mount Union family and are regular attendees at campus events.

“We are grateful to Carl and Martha for the many ways in which they provide leadership,” said President Richard F. Giese. “The Gartner Welcome Center would not have happened without them.”

Carl is quick to applaud the efforts of others who helped throughout the process as well, though.

“We may have provided the lead gift for this facility, but so many others contributed in order to make this building possible,” he said.  Those contributors include the Rodmans and Fortunes who also made significant financial gifts toward the new facility.

Also making significant contributions to the Welcome Center are Dr. James ’49 and Maggie (Kinsey ’51) Rodman and the late Dr. W. Brooks ’34 and Wanda Fortune.

“The Rodman name is part of the very fabric of Mount Union,” said Jim Piatt, vice president for college advancement. “They are among a select group who have devoted their lives to educating our students.”

James served as professor of physics and astronomy from 1951 to 1993. Well-known and respected for their philanthropy and commitment to Alliance, the Rodmans have supported a myriad of building projects and special initiatives over the years at the College.

Brooks earned a doctoral degree at Purdue University upon graduation from Mount Union. He rose through the ranks of the Eli Lilly, Co., retiring as executive vice president of research.

A world traveler and philanthropist, Fortune supported many projects at Mount Union – an endowed scholarship, building projects and the Annual Fund. 

“Brooks just loved his experience at Mount Union and supporting the College was always very special to him,” said Wanda.

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