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Alverno College Exceeds $30 Million Capital Campaign Goal!

Posted: January 21, 2015

Alverno College exceeded its original $30 million capital campaign goal in December, raising a total of $32,793,000. The expansion and renovation, which broke ground in March of 2014, is the most significant enhancement in the college’s 128-year history. Improvements include a new classroom building, a state-of-the-art nursing simulation center for the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and the creation of a new, larger student commons to enhance the student experience.

“This is an investment in the city of Milwaukee as well as an investment in Alverno,” said Mary J. Meehan, Ph.D., president of Alverno College. “Our alums are leaders in business, healthcare and education, and since 80% of our graduates live and work in Wisconsin, we truly are having an impact locally.” Alverno alumnae include Fullbright Scholars, college deans and department heads, CEOs and senior executives, a Guggenheim Fellow and a MacArthur Genius Award winner.

Construction began in 2014, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2015. “Alverno hosts many national and international guests because of our unique curriculum, and our new spaces offer an opportunity to shine a light on the city as well as on our college,” Meehan said.

Campaign Details

In order to finance the improvements, a fundraising campaign began in 2011 led by Paul Purcell, CEO of Robert W. Baird, Don Layden, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLC, and Ellen Gardner, ’69, retired President of Ameritech-Wisconsin. Alverno alumnae gave more than $8.7 million, a record contribution from alumnae. Many staff, faculty, and students also contributed to the campaign.

“Alverno has always been dedicated to student success,” said Gardner. “These improvements mean the college is better equipped to meet the needs of its students, and in turn have a greater impact on their futures, their careers and their lives.” Gardner, an Alverno College alumna, was one of the first female CEOs in Wisconsin. She spent 30 years with Ameritech, now AT&T, working her way up from a management trainee to president, all while helping to manage the company’s transition from a telephone company to the full service, competitive communication business it is today.

Project Details

The expansion and improvements focused on the following areas:

 Nine new high-tech classrooms help Alverno accommodate its growing enrollment and connect students with online learning resources around the world.
 A new high-fidelity nursing simulation center enables nursing students to practice skills in life-like settings. Alverno’s JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing has the largest enrollment in the state, and the new simulation center will ensure a nursing degree from Alverno continues to be a hallmark of excellence.
 An expanded commons provides a spacious, comfortable gathering place for students, faculty and staff. Featuring a larger food service area, a coffee shop and private group study rooms, the new commons gives the Alverno community a strong center. In addition, a heritage plaza with outdoor seating connected to the dining hall honors the School Sisters of St. Francis, founders of Alverno College.
 A new “Student Main Street” combines advising, financial aid, career planning and other critical student services in one easy-to-access location adjacent to the new commons.
 A new art education suite doubles the classroom space devoted to art and dance education. Since nearly 40 percent of Alverno students take courses in art and dance every year, the expansion ensures students have the space they need to develop their creativity.
 In recognition of a generous gift from the Bucyrus Foundation, the conference center in the Sister Joel Read Center will be expanded and renamed the Bucyrus Conference Center and will allow greater service to the broader community.
 Thanks to a considerable gift from A. O. Smith Corporation, the International and Intercultural Office is now named the A. O. Smith International and Intercultural Office.

All of the improvements include energy-efficient lighting; flooring, furnishings and fixtures with a low environmental impact; and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning wherever possible. The expanded commons area also features a green roof that will absorb rainfall, reduce reflected heat and be the most visible of several efforts to help the environment and reduce energy costs.

To learn more about how you can get involved in this transformational campaign for Alverno's future, please contact Kaye Leszczynski in the Advancement Office at (414) 382-6095 or Thank you for your interest in and support of Alverno College!