The floors of the open tennis and basketball courts shined under giant white tents, wet with a rain that passed moments before a different kind of flood began: a migration of students, staff and faculty donning red “We <3 you” T-shirts.
Today, the Lynn University community came together with donors and other supporters to celebrate the Christine E. Lynn University Center groundbreaking.
Lynn President Kevin M. Ross began the celebration by noting, “The Christine E. Lynn University Center will be the largest project we have ever undertaken on our campus. And today, when Christine puts the first shovel into the dirt, we will have officially completed the final step of our strategic plan, Lynn 2020, two years ahead of schedule.”
He thanked Mrs. Lynn and shared the many ways the university has tried to express its gratitude—from sending love letters featuring Lynn students and employees holding giant red hearts to wearing red T-shirts to commemorate the event.
“Christine loves our students, and she is not only generous with her gifts, but also her time. She has served as our board of trustees chair since 1999, and her guidance, leadership and support have been invaluable in the advancement of our university," Ross said.
He also recognized the many donors who have contributed to the project before turning the stage over to Cody Bartusiak, student athlete and member of the Knights of the Roundtable, Lynn’s student government organization.
“It will represent one of my favorite things about being a student here at Lynn, our sense of community,” Bartusiak said. “To me, community involves the teammates and students I am fortunate enough to work alongside every day and all the wonderful people who work together to create such a welcoming campus. That sense of community is one of the reasons I feel everyone at Lynn is so excited about the possibilities the new university center holds for our campus and its student body.”
Cliff Bollman, senior associate at Gensler, the university center’s architects, described the firm’s long-standing relationship with the university and further illustrated the building’s planned spaces.
“The building will figuratively and spiritually be at the heart of campus,” he said. “And now we hand it over to Gerrits Construction, who will help us bring this space, which is much more than a student center, to life.”
Cassidy Kruse, president of the Student Activities Board agreed, “This new center will be much more than just another campus building. It will be a representation of the university’s dedication to student success and inclusiveness. It will serve as a place for all students to connect, and it will stand at the heart of our campus as a symbol of the university’s heartbeat, its students.”
Bartusiak and Kruse presented Mrs. Lynn with commemorative gifts including a plaque and shovel, and an imprinted vase and flowers. The Knights of the Roundtable also presented the other named donors with crystal blocks containing an etched rendering.
Mrs. Lynn then spoke, expressing surprise and delight over the day’s events. “You’re quite a sight! You look fantastic,” she remarked about the crowd. “I never expected so many people to be here today. I feel a great honor and pride to break ground on the building today. I want to thank all [of you] … for benefiting the future of the students and our university.”
The audience broke into a standing ovation, as she and President Ross put on red hard hats, grabbed shovels and broke ground. Following, attendees enjoyed a barbecue picnic and live music.
This concluded the ceremony, though perhaps no one stated it better than Bartusiak, “Standing here today, I realize none of us truly knows the effect this building will have on our community. But, everyone who has seen the architect’s drawings ... knows it will be a gem located in the heart of our campus. It will be a space that will draw students in, a space where students will want to be, a space that will promote the success of all students. I expect the results will be quite profound, and I anticipate student involvement and engagement will grow, and our sense of community will become even stronger.”