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2013 Center for Student Life Dedication

Steven C. Bahls, President of Augustana College

Sept. 14, 2013

Parents would you agree with me that Augustana has the most awesome students in the nation? And for a school with the most awesome students in the nation, we need one of the most awesome centers for student life in the nation. Let me say that Winston Churchill once said, "We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us." It is my hope that this building will shape generations of Augustana College students. That the conversations that take place with faculty in the hallways of this facility will be about career development and our student's futures. That friendships formed in this facility may be friendships for life. That spouses and partners might be met in this facility as our 18-23-year-olds think of their years ahead. I am so proud of this facility and how it will shape our students. 

Now when Kent Barnds came to me about three years ago with the idea of combining a library, a student center and a dining hall, I thought he was a little crazy, no one has done that. Kent is a visionary and thinks outside of the box. One of the things in addition to Kent's persuasive argumentation that persuaded the board and me to go ahead with this building was an article by Jeffrey Freeman, the original architect of the Tredway Library. He said something very interesting in his article, the article is about five years old, it was a scholarly article and he said, "The libraries that I designed 20 years ago are functionally obsolete." When he published that article our library had been designed 20 years ago. He said, "20 years ago I thought libraries should be temples for books. They should look like temples with peaked ceilings, they should be controlled to protect the books from people." Hard to get in, hard to get out of the library, he said, "The libraries of tomorrow are in fact the social centers of colleges and universities, where students gather not only to use books, but to use online resources. That the library of tomorrow should not only be the study of the college but should be the living room of the college also." And we took that one step further to make it the dining room of the college.  

Well this has been a huge project for Augustana there are 25,000 king-sized bricks in this building, enough bricks to span 83 football fields. We removed 80,000 cubic yards of soil, 1,333 truckloads of soil. We, in fact, poured over 2,000 cubic yards of concrete. We could build a three-foot wide sidewalk from here to South-Park Mall with all of that concrete. And we used 22 tons of structural steel in this building. Now assume the average football player weighs 200 pounds; that is 220 Vikings worth of structural steel in this building.  

You know it was Stephen Gardiner, who was an English Roman Catholic Bishop in the 1500s that said, "Good buildings come from good people." This building, my friend, comes from good people. It comes from the people that designed it, that did not have a template, BLDD Architects. It comes from hundreds of workmen and workwomen that braved rain and ice storms to build this building in a record time from Russell Construction and its subcontractors. Likewise it was facilitated by the State of Illinois and the City of Rock Island. This is part of a $40 million redevelopment project at Augustana College, 10 percent of that money, about $4 million, is being provided from the State of Illinois. Senator Jacobs, we thank you for your advocacy there. And we would point out to you that private institutions, like Augustana, leverage state money. We leverage the $4 million, which we are deeply grateful for, 9 to 1. Let's thank the State of Illinois for making this possible.  

And in terms of good people making this project possible, I'd like to thank our city officials here. If you're thinking about doing business in the Quad Cities or in the Midwest, there is no finer place to do business in the Quad Cities than Rock Island. I will tell you the cooperative arrangement we had with the city to get the requisite permits to build this in an 18 month time period could not have happened in other parts of our area. We are indebted to Mayor Pauley, Alderman Murphy, for their significant facilitation of this project. Let's thank our city officials.  

I'd also like to thank the Augustana College personnel that are good people envisioning this project. Garry Griffith came to me two years ago with the idea of combining the dining halls and has been a true visionary. Carla Tracy, as she has worked with us in thinking about preserving the best of a traditional library, but integrating a modern library into a larger facility. Ken Brill who is in touch with students and student life and how we can make this building pop for students. I want to thank them all. But I also want to thank Kent Barnds, our vice president. This was Kent's vision. He is indeed a visionary. There were some rocks thrown at the vision along the way, but he held his course and we got this building. Malcolm Gladwall said, "A visionary is one that starts with a clean sheet of paper and reimagines the world." Kent Barnds started with a clean sheet of paper and reimagined student life at Augustana College. Let's thank Kent Barnds, our lead visionary.  

And finally, I would like to thank the men and women, the alumni and friends of the college that made his building possible through their charitable donations to Augustana College. Over $30 million dollars donated to this set of construction projects. We stand on the shoulders of giants. There is nothing more invigorating than when a friend of the college says "I'm going to make a significant contribution to your college today, because of the experience I had 20, 30, 40 years ago." So many of those friends of Augustana College are with us in the audience today. Let us thank the men and women who made this building financially possible.  

With that, let me conclude by saying, may many generations of Augustana College students grow in mind, body and spirit through the magic of the Augustana Center for Student Life.  

Thank you very much.