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College awarded $250,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grant will facilitate upgrades to former Carnegie Library’s teaching spaces

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at dickinsonh@beloit.edu or 608-363-2849

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation has awarded a $250,000 grant to Beloit College that will allow the college to enhance the primary classroom spaces within its World Affairs Center.

Officially called the Pettibone World Affairs Center, the building was built as a Carnegie library for the college and dedicated in January of 1905. Today it is home to the departments of English and Modern Languages and Literature, and contains the college’s Hall of Flags, language lab, classrooms, and offices.

The grant will be used to update the building’s two largest classroom spaces – the Bunge and Baldwin rooms. The goal of the renovations, which include restoring the hardwood floors, is to return the rooms to their original early-20th century ambiance and to reclaim their status as signature seminar rooms and academic meeting spaces on campus. In addition to aesthetic upgrades, the rooms will be outfitted with new technology to facilitate new teaching methods and to connect the classrooms with other spaces and students around the world.

As stated in the award letter, the foundation aims to use its grants to “’make good schools better’ and improve the overall educational experience” for students.

“This grant is exciting because it allows us to return a legacy space on campus to its former glory while adapting it to strengthen the kind of learning and teaching we value today,” says Ann Davies, provost and dean of the college. “For example, the state-of-the-art technology will facilitate our modern languages students’ conversations with peers around the world. Meanwhile, our student editors for the Beloit Fiction Journal will have a new ‘home’ as they read, debate, and reach consensus on selections for their edition. These kinds of intense, face-to-face activities are signatures of a Beloit education, and the planned renovations directly support them.”

Jeff Puckett, vice president for external affairs, believes the foundation found the project exciting and worthy of support for several reasons, but especially for the obvious ties it had to the college's successful "Renewing the Historic Core" efforts.

"In our application, we were able to prove, I think, that this work would build upon and greatly expand our efforts to preserve and repurpose this historic building in a way that gave it a future, while honoring its past,” Puckett says. “That parents and supporters of Beloit College had already made a significant investment in that work, I think, spoke volumes."

The exterior of the building was professionally cleaned in the spring of 2011, and the windows replaced over the summer, using monies received from that parent-led fundraising effort. The facility improvements are anticipated to begin this summer and be completed by the start of the fall 2012 semester.   

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, based in Jacksonville, Fla., are a national philanthropic organization established through the generosity of the late American industrialist, Arthur Vining Davis. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations currently provide grants in the program areas of private higher education, religion, secondary education, health care, and public television. For more information, click here.