WKU to break ground on alumni center in July

A rendering of the new Augenstein Alumni Center.

Katherine Wade

The WKU Alumni Association is finalizing plans for its new alumni center.   

Groundbreaking for the 30,000 square foot Augenstein Alumni Center, announced last October, is scheduled for July 15. The new building will include ballroom space, a WKU museum, dining rooms and offices.

Donald Smith, assistant vice president for the WKU Alumni Association, said the current Alumni Center is a building the university has outgrown.

“It was originally the President’s house, and it was never built as a place for offices and event holding,” he said.

WKU has extended the bid period, which originally expired today, until the end of this month, Smith said.

The university still needs to raise about $25 million more to reach its $200 million goal for the university’s current capital campaign, “A New Century of Spirit.” The campaign is set to end in June 2012.

Part of the campaign includes fundraising for the alumni center, said Kathryn Costello, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations.

WKU alumnus Dale Augenstein, an Owensboro native, pledged $1 million in October toward construction of a new alumni center in Block 12 of the Bowling Green Tax Increment Financing District, down the Hill from Van Meter Hall.

Augenstein said he was passionate about his alma mater, and he thought this donation was his chance to give back.

“We want to build a building that will 100 years from now still fit in with the campus,” he said. “The location is spectacular, and it is going to provide a cornerstone to the gateway from campus to downtown.”

Smith said Augestein has been very involved since the beginning of the project.

“He has really believed in it,” he said.

Between $3.2 million and $3.4 million has been raised for the center, Costello said.

Costello, Augenstein and other university officials — including Smith — will visit with alumni in different cities across Kentucky in the next several weeks to talk fundraising.

“One of the things we’ll be talking about in those meetings with alumni is about the alumni center and how exciting it’s going to be to have a home for alumni to come to on campus, and what it will do for future generations,” she said.

Smith said he hopes the building will serve all the needs that WKU alumni have been asking for years.

Costello said the new center will eventually seem like a part of campus.

“It’s really just beginning to bring the whole community closer to the university by having this as kind of a bridge,” she said.

The construction on the building is estimated to take 15 months, Smith said, so the goal is to have it completed by fall 2012.

“It would be ideal to have it ready by Homecoming,” Smith said. “We’d love to have a big ribbon-cutting with our alumni and student visitors.”