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University Receives Gift To Build Student Center

$7 Million Donation Will Transform Memorial Hall Basement

By June Shih, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard received a $7 million donation to transform the basement of Memorial Hall into a student center, University officials announced yesterday.

The gift represents a major step towards the realization of a comprehensive $50 million plan to renovate Sanders Theatre, relocate the first year students' dining hall to Memorial Hall, and create a center for the humanities in the Freshman Union.

Katherine Bogdonovich Loker, a Philanthropist and past donor to the University, presented the gift at a dinner last night attended by 240 alumni, faculty, administrators and students.

The Katherine Bogdonovich Loker Commons, as the center will be called, will include a late-night coffee house and other refreshment areas conducive to socializing, seminar rooms and rehearsal space.

Originally conceived in 1987, the Loker Commons is expected to fulfill students' long-expressed desire for an informal, University-wide gathering place.

Pending the successful conclusion of funding for the $25 million project, construction in Memorial Hall is tentatively scheduled to begin in May 1994 and be completed by the start of the 1995-96 academic year. Raising the estimated $50 million will be a high priority during the 1993-4 university-wide fundraising drive.

The Commons and the decision to situate the first-year dining hall in the stained-glass splendor of the Medieval-style great hall is intended to foster a greater sense of community among first-years and other undergraduates and graduate students, said Phillip Parsons, director of planning in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Locating the student center in Memorial Hall will also make more efficient and fuller use of the building, considered the most beautiful example of late Victorian architecture at Harvard.

Memorial Hall is "an underused building at the heart of the campus and we wanted [to make it into] a focal point for the arts and sciences community," Parsons said.

A "very food-oriented" student center "slap in the middle and at the geographic heart of the campus" will become an ideal place for student to congregate between classes and sections he added.

The Harvard Union, where first-years currently take their meals, has not been conducive to such camaraderie, said the director of planning.

"The Union is dead between meals," Parsons said. The Commons, with its proximity to the Science Center, and of course, Sanders Theatre should be lively at all hours of the day.

The construction of the Commons will not diminish the importance of the existing house system, Parsons said.

"We hope this will bring freshmen into the larger academic community, it won't weaken house system, which its the core of the Harvard undergraduate experience," he said.

The new Commons will force the relocation of the offices of many student groups and publications including those of the Perspective, the Salient and the student-run radio station, WHRB.

Where these groups will be relocated is still to be determined by a faculty committee on the renovation of Memorial Hall, chaired by Dean of theGraduate School of Arts and Sciences Christoph J.Wolff. Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 willalso take an active role in the planning of theproject, Parsons said.

Renovations at Sanders Theatre will focus onmaking the eminent performance hall more performerand audience friendly. Plans include constructinggreen rooms, dressing rooms and a lift for theSteinway D concert grand piano. Currently, Sandersmust hire a moving company whenever a performerneeds a piano on stage. Updated lighting and soundsystems as well as air conditioning will beinstalled.

The removal of the first-year students' dininghall from the Union to Memorial Hall will clearthe way for the establishment of a HumanitiesCenter in the Union. Offices and classrooms forthe humanities departments scattered all acrossthe University will be concentrated in the Union.The center will from part of a humanities complexthat reaches from Boylston Hall to the SacklerMuseum.

The proximity of closely related departmentssuch as literature, English literature andfolklore and mythology will be more conducive toscholarship, according to University officials.

Preliminary plans are bring drawn up andconstruction is expected to begin in May 1995.

Loker, whose father founded Star Kist Foods in1917, endowed the Loker Professorship of Englishin 1983 with her late husband Donald P. Loker '25

Renovations at Sanders Theatre will focus onmaking the eminent performance hall more performerand audience friendly. Plans include constructinggreen rooms, dressing rooms and a lift for theSteinway D concert grand piano. Currently, Sandersmust hire a moving company whenever a performerneeds a piano on stage. Updated lighting and soundsystems as well as air conditioning will beinstalled.

The removal of the first-year students' dininghall from the Union to Memorial Hall will clearthe way for the establishment of a HumanitiesCenter in the Union. Offices and classrooms forthe humanities departments scattered all acrossthe University will be concentrated in the Union.The center will from part of a humanities complexthat reaches from Boylston Hall to the SacklerMuseum.

The proximity of closely related departmentssuch as literature, English literature andfolklore and mythology will be more conducive toscholarship, according to University officials.

Preliminary plans are bring drawn up andconstruction is expected to begin in May 1995.

Loker, whose father founded Star Kist Foods in1917, endowed the Loker Professorship of Englishin 1983 with her late husband Donald P. Loker '25

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