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Plans move forward for Alumni Center renovation

Graduates' donation helps fund welcome center, conference room and banquet hall

06/25/04

The University is remodeling a portion of the Alumni Center—formerly the F&W Publications building and the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Dana Avenue—to create a welcome center and central hub for visiting alumni and dignitaries.

Plans include a lobby and welcome center, a conference room, bar and banquet hall. The banquet hall, which seats 200 comfortably, is being outfitted with an array of high-tech equipment for use in seminars, workshops, meetings and informal business events, as well as alumni gatherings.

The glass-enclosed welcome area and open, Art Deco-detailed banquet space have seen a variety of uses since the University took over the historic, 70-year-old building in January 2002. The spaces were initially used for storage and temporary office space for employees within the University’s division of university relations while renovations occurred in other portions of the building. The spaces were then used as temporary classrooms for students from Cincinnati’s Summit Country Day School, which moved its high school operations to Xavier after a portion of its school building collapsed as a result of a construction accident. The students left in June.

Until recently, a gathering place for Xavier alumni was purely an idea and a hope, says Joe Ventura, executive director for the national alumni association.

“This has been in talks for many years and now, finally, it's like a dream come true,” says Ventura. “Alumni have a place to go to feel like they’re home.”

Alumni Phil Gasiewicz, Class of 1968, and his wife, Beth (Surkamp) Gasiewicz, Class of 1974, donated the funds for the development of the space. The welcome center is being named after the Gasiewicz family, while the banquet space is being named after the Surkamp family.

“Phil’s vision is to make a positive impact upon the University,” says Fred Sansone, director of planned giving for the Eastern region. “His donation represents a very structured and well-thought through planned gift that will help the school with all alumni who come through.”

Phil Gasiewicz began his career with a company that conducted investigative background checks for the federal government and large corporations. During his tenure as vice president and, later, chief operating officer, the company grew from 600 employees to more than 7,000. He is now retired.

Beth Gasiewicz works as a nurse at United Community Hospital in Grove City, Penn.

Along with the Alumni Center renovation, the Gasiewicz family has also set up scholarship opportunities and donated funds for the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.