The campus community celebrated the completion of Bellarmine Centro with the April 20 dedication of Joseph J. McGowan, Jr. Hall, an emotional event attended by the former president’s wife, Maureen, their twin sons and other relatives.
McGowan Hall is connected by a three-story glass atrium to the completely renovated Horrigan and Treece halls. Its 48,350 square feet provide new homes for Admissions, the Career Development Center and the Office of Campus Ministry, and students who work in each of those areas spoke at the dedication. McGowan Hall also houses the W. Fielding Rubel School of Business and the President’s Office.
Dr. McGowan, Bellarmine’s third president (1990-2016), envisioned Centro, one of the most significant capital projects ever undertaken at the university, not only as an excellent environment for 21st century learning, but also as a wonderful new gathering space for students.
“The college experience encompasses many things, and chief among them, I believe, is the personal growth that occurs when we encounter people, ideas and beliefs that are different from us and from our ideas and beliefs—and through authentic conversations, we either change our minds, or we learn why we hold the beliefs that we do,” he said at the 2014 groundbreaking for the new building. “Centro, like no other place on the Bellarmine campus before, will provide the perfect setting for these encounters and these conversations, for resident students and commuting students alike.”
The Bellarmine Board of Trustees approved naming the new hall in Dr. McGowan’s memory and honor following his death on March 1, 2016.
“McGowan Hall will forever be a tangible reminder of Dr. McGowan’s tremendous and indelible legacy at this university,” his successor, Dr. Susan M. Donovan, said at the dedication. “I consider it a privilege to have my office in McGowan Hall, and from there to have the opportunity to build upon Dr. McGowan’s Vision to move Bellarmine forward to even greater prominence and impact in the local, regional and global society.”
OFFICE OF ADMISSION
BEFORE: 8,500 square feet in Miles Hall
AFTER: 11,000 square feet in McGowan Hall
“The Admissions staff is the reason I came to Bellarmine,” said Cheyenne Turner, a rising junior from Victorville, Calif., who is majoring in biology and plans to go to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. “I am the first to ever go to college, so my family wanted me to apply everywhere. I applied to 12 different universities around the country, and I got into 10 of them. I toured all 10, and if you ever went on a college tour, you know it is long and stressful. I felt like a number during every tour I went on.”
After being accepted to Bellarmine, she scheduled her 11th tour. “I noticed as soon as I walked in the door that this tour would be different. The staff talked to me and made sure all my questions were answered. They customized the tour to my liking, and they helped me through the whole admission process. Now, you can basically say I live in the Admissions office. I do my work study in Admissions, I am an ambassador and I give tours as well.”
Its new location in Centro allows Admissions, which was previously housed well off the beaten path in Miles Hall, to give an even better tour, Cheyenne said.
“When I took my tour in Miles, it felt scattered. You felt closed off. You didn’t see interaction between current students and faculty. Now there is a nice flow. When prospective students come through the door of Centro, it fills them with excitement for this new part of their lives. You see kids interacting and studying. You get a good feel and a good first impression. “Centro has become the focal point of Bellarmine University.”
OFFICE OF CAMPUS MINISTRY
BEFORE: 900 square feet in Horrigan Hall
AFTER: 1,572 square feet in McGowan Hall
Ryan Ward, a rising senior from Indianapolis, grew up in a family of church musicians. After his first Mass in Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, he spoke with someone in Campus Ministry, who invited him to join the Chapel Musicians for Mass the following Sunday and to come to the Campus Ministry office.
“When I first walked into that office, I was surprised at the size of it,” said Ryan, a music and business administration major. “There were only a couple of students there studying plus a student-worker, but I was still shocked at how small the office was.” Meetings to plan music for Mass were often quite cozy, he said, and the assistant director had no separate office.
Shortly before his second year, Campus Ministry moved into its current space just off the atrium in McGowan Hall. “We nearly tripled in size! We now have two separate desks students can use to study, a conference table that seats six people, a large student-worker desk, a comfortable couch area, a storage closet (we used to use some of the lockers in the first-floor hallway of Horrigan) and three offices! We use this large space for meetings, activities, prayer and study space.
“Because of Dr. McGowan’s vision, we are able to provide more programming and have more space to work.”
CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER
BEFORE: 500 square feet in Treece Hall
AFTER: 1,500 square feet in McGowan Hall
“I got to know Career Development before any other department because I needed to ‘figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,’” said Monica Jackson, a rising senior majoring in psychology.
The Career Development Center serves as an important resource for current students and alumni alike, and its prominent new space in McGowan Hall emphasizes its role in guaranteeing all students internships and connecting graduates with rewarding jobs.
Bellarmine announced the Bellarmine Internship Guarantee in 2015. Since then, with the help of grants from the James Graham Brown Foundation and the Ogle Foundation, three major initiatives have been launched, including two preparatory career courses, a summer internship scholarship and a paid internship program in the nonprofit sector.
That growing emphasis on career development is already paying off for students and recent graduates. A survey of the class of 2017 showed that 99 percent were working or continuing their higher education. Among the 2017 graduates in the workforce, the survey found that bachelor’s degree recipients were earning an average of $43,000, while graduate degree recipients were earning an average of $68,000.
“Just a month ago,” Monica said at the dedication, “I told the Career Development staff I was thinking about the Peace Corps after I graduate. They immediately connected me to an alum. But they also challenged me to go beyond this to help support other students. Last week I hosted a luncheon for students to come engage in an open conversation with two Peace Corps alums.
“I think Dr. McGowan is smiling down at the continued growth of this institution,” she said. “I know if I need to figure out ‘what to do with my life,’ I have career services for life because of the team there, our alumni and tremendous people like Dr. McGowan and Dr. Donovan.”
By Carla Carlton | email@example.com
Photos by Ryan Noltemeyer ’15