Alumni center goal: Become a time capsule

Nearly $5 million in renovations to the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center will leave it looking more like a museum than a gathering place for graduates.

The privately funded expansion of the center is scheduled to be completed by February, and has been in progress for three years. The project costs more than $4.7 million and, when finished, the center will boast almost twice the square footage of the 50,000 it has now.

Lisa Lewis, executive director of the Alumni Association, said a large amount of that square footage will be a result of Traditions Hall, one of the largest additions to the complex.

“The expansion will feature Tradition Hall that commemorates USF’s history and reflects on the growth that has occurred since USF’s early years,” Lewis said in a e-mail interview Tuesday. “This showcase room will hold 200 (people) for a sit-down dinner or many more for receptions.”

But the remembrance does not stop there. Lewis said the center will have another room for recognition called the Alumni Hall, which will feature USF memorabilia, bound editions of past Oracles, old photographs of the campus and former USF presidents’ portraits, which are currently displayed in the Library.

“The portraits will remind alumni of the university’s leadership and how far USF has come in the past 47 years,” Lewis said.

Along with the two halls, the project will involve expanding the atrium and adding office space to the building, Lewis said. The expansion is meant to create stronger bonds between the university and its graduates.

“The Alumni Center is the campus home of more than 175,000 USF graduates and serves as USF’s front door for donors, friends and community members,” Lewis said. “Maintaining relationships with them and developing alumni support for USF is important to the university’s future. The expanded alumni center is an integral part of this process.”

Lewis said she is confident that the center will be a home for alumni for years to come and that the center will continue to grow.

“USF students will soon join the ranks of USF graduates and call this building their home,” Lewis said. “The memories they are creating will become a part of USF’s history and will one day be captured as a moment in time in the Gibbons Alumni Center.”