Though many of them have left Alma Mater behind, University graduates will have a new place to welcome them back to Columbia's campus. break On April 1, the Columbia Alumni Center officially opened its doors at 622 West 113th St. between Broadway and Riverside. It replaced McVickar Hall, former home of the School of Social Work, and is the first alumni hospitality center ever to be opened on Columbia's campus. The Alumni Center has a welcome center on its the first floor accompanied by alumni-oriented offices on the other eight floors. This welcome center will act as a gathering place for alumni who want to revisit the campus. The Center will have information about the current events on campus, alumni events, and alumni benefits along with a library containing old yearbooks. Aside from the library, the welcome center will also house a lounge, a seminar room, and a courtesy office. Each room will also be dedicated to a different University alumnus. The Center will be open to the public Monday through Friday of each week and plans to host reunions and other large alumni events. There are over 275,000 University alumni worldwide and over 100,000 in the New York area alone. Jerry Kisslinger, CC '79, the executive director for communications for the Office of Alumni and Development, said he hopes the center will act as a "portal to campus" for these alumni. "It is not what we give them, but what they give each other that's important," Kisslinger said. According to the Vice President for Alumni Relations Donna MacPhee, CC '89, the center will help "connect alumni with each other" and provide a place for them to meet fellow Columbians. Jennifer Shaw, the director of the Alumni Welcome Center, said she believes that the alumni will be more likely to connect with each other merely due to the "informality of occupying the same space." Shaw hopes that some events will help alumni connect with each other not only in the New York area but also over great distances. She also said that she hopes to host events via Internet connections between multiple alumni gatherings in different cities. She cited, for example, a situation in which an author and Columbia alumnus would converse simultaneously with an alumni group at the Center and other alumni gathered in another city, such as Los Angeles, by means of a video conference. Shaw said that the Center will try to "be organic and responsive to alumni" so that alumni can better utilize the center to meet their needs. The Center also houses the University's Office of Alumni and Development and the Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, including Columbia Magazine and Columbia College Today. Opening ceremony events, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony, are scheduled for late spring after construction on the new center is complete.
Lila Neiswanger / Senior staff photographer