January 1, 2005
Carol J. Schlueter
Just as construction crews are making progress on the rebuilding of the University Center, fundraising for the project also is moving forward with several significant gifts from alumni and friends of the university. Construction began almost a year ago along McAlister Drive on the uptown campus as workers tore down the 45-year-old building to its skeleton. New steel and concrete structures are going up as the project moves toward completion in early 2006.
When it reopens, the center will be renamed the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life. A large gift from the Lavin and Bernick families, including Carol Lavin Bernick (N'74), chairman of the board of the Alberto-Culver Co., assisted greatly with the renovation. She also is a member of the Board of Tulane.
As fundraising continues on the $37-million project, two recent gifts of $1.5 million also will be recognized by the naming of vital building areas.
The Edward G. Schlieder Foundation has pledged $1.5 million to the project in memory of the late Donald J. Nalty, longtime civic leader, Tulane supporter and member of the Board of Tulane. The student commons area will be named for Nalty, who was chair of the Schlieder Foundation when he died last year. Because the center serves as the heart of the campus community, it seems a fitting tribute for her late husband, says Betsy Nalty. He was involved in many areas of the university, including the arts, athletics and academics.
"It would please Donald to be in the center of things at Tulane University," she says.
The Nalty Student Commons will be on the garden level and directly connect to Pocket Park.
"It's the perfect way to memorialize Donald, who spent so much time at Tulane, as did Betsy and the family," said Luann Dozier, vice president for development. "That's why this gift is so important. The UC represents a bit of everything about the campus, where faculty, staff and students congregate, and where we can recognize Donald in a permanent way."
An executive with Hibernia National Bank, Donald Nalty was the recipient of Tulane's most prestigious alumni awards--the Dermot McGlinchey Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 and the Health Sciences Center Chancellor's Distinguished Service Award in 1997. Making a difference in the lives of young people was very important to Donald, Betsy says--helping with education and providing opportunities for students. The gift to the new center "reflects so much of his thinking and his concerns."
With many fond memories of the University Center from his "incredible experience" at Tulane, Christopher James (A&S '91) stepped forward with a $1.5 million gift from the James Family Foundation. The study lounge, a first-level area that will provide seating and wireless Internet access to students and visitors, will be named in recognition of the James' gift.
"The University Center is literally and figuratively the center of Tulane," says James, a financial executive who is chairman and CEO of Partner Fund Management in San Francisco.
He remembers "the UC as a place where I was able to go and enjoy all the positives of university life." In fact, James says his best friends today came from his Tulane years.
"The combination of what Tulane and New Orleans had to offer gave me an education that I wouldn't trade for anything," he says.
The James Family Foundation, which includes James, his wife, Bradley, and his sister, Laura, also has endowed scholarships at several universities including Tulane. Dozier praises the foundation for "scholarship support that is making an impact in higher education around the country." She says James' gift to the project is important from the perspective of a former student.
"This gift is reflective of someone who spent many hours in the UC, meeting with friends-- really, a home away from home." James is positive about Tulane's future. "I see Tulane moving in such a positive direction under (president) Scott Cowen's leadership that I feel very good funding projects that he feels will improve the community."
When word spread through the alumni ranks that a fundraising effort was under way to name a room for Karlem "Ducky" Riess, Tulanians began responding. So far, nearly 100 donors have provided gifts totaling approximately $30,000.
Martha Sullivan, former Tulane vice president of student affairs who is working on the project, says the support has crossed generations. Gifts and notes of best wishes have come from recent graduates as well as alumni who took courses from Riess in the 1950s.
Riess (A&S'33, G'35) is an emeritus professor of physics who was a favorite mentor among students and served as adviser to many honorary societies on campus. Sullivan hopes to raise $100,000 to name the new center's conference room for Riess.
"The UC is not only an outstanding symbol and the major crossroads of campus, but Ducky himself was at the crossroads of student life on campus."
For more information about the Riess project, contact Sullivan at email@example.com, or call 504-390-6118. For information about the overall project, contact Juanita Dyer, director of development administration, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 504-865-5794 .
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 email@example.com