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In Grafton, new campus center is community hub

With the official dedication of the Agnes Varis Campus Center on September 23, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine unveiled a showpiece that will foster a new spirit of community at the school. President Lawrence S. Bacow hosted the dedication ceremony, at which Trustee and Overseer Agnes Varis, H03, who gave the $4 million naming gift, was guest of honor.

A visit to the new campus center reveals an inviting venue that promises to be a popular destination for students, faculty, and staff. New fieldstone under the front patio matches the original architecture of the building, originally a residence for male nurses when the grounds housed a state hospital. Through the campus center's windows, framing is visible for the new auditorium that is being constructed next door and is scheduled to open in spring 2009.

On the first floor of the Varis Campus Center, the campus dining service, long housed in a trailer canteen, now has its own space. The Elms Café, which opened this summer, has been supported by a gift from Dr. David McGrath, AG83, V86, A11P, trustee and overseer.

On the second floor are two student lounges: one "quiet," with a working gas fireplace, the other "loud," with pool, foosball, and TV. Picture windows provide striking views of the tree-lined grounds. The student-run campus store, formerly housed in a cramped closet in the Jean Mayer Administration Building, has its own spacious room.

On the third floor, faculty members this summer began moving into new offices. Visitors to Professor M. Kumar's office one recent morning found his shelves lined with books and animal skulls–otter, alligator, deer, raven, and ringtailed lemur. The window seat outside his door looked to be an inviting waiting place for the first-year Gross Anatomy students who visit during office hours.

"It's perfect, the best thing I've seen compared to other schools' faculty offices," Kumar says.

Meantime, on the lowest level of the building, a state-of-the-art fitness center has been equipped with weight racks, treadmills, and ellipticals, funded in part from $43,000 in donations raised by Team Jumbo West, the Grafton contingent of student runners in the President's Marathon Challenge.


Exercise room: $500,000
Social lounge $500,000
Student-organizations office $250,000
Student store $150,000
Auditorium seats, traditional $1,000

For more information please contact:
Shelley Rodman
Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine