Wedged between Burgess Hall and the Matthew Knight Arena is a four-story building that has become one of the focal points of visitors’ campus experience. The Cheryl Ramberg Ford and Allyn Ford Alumni Center is the University’s newest building and serves as a welcoming point and gateway to the campus.
The new building opened two weeks ago when the UO Foundation and the Alumni Association moved in two weeks ago. They were followed by University Development, which moved in a week ago, and Student Orientation Programs, which moved in last Monday.
Alumni Association Associate Executive Director Uri Farkas said the alumni center would serve as a much-needed welcome center for the campus. Farkas explained that for student orientation, campus tours would start at the alumni center, meaning that prospective students and families would no longer have to wait in the rain in front of Oregon Hall for tours to begin.
The lobby of the building features an interpretive center with touchscreen panels built into pillars that detail the University’s history, as well as exhibits of artifacts relating to notable alumni, including an original manuscript of Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” There’s also a table with a touchscreen interface allowing visitors to access a database containing over 210,000 University alumni. Alumni can go online and add a note to their entry.
“I love it when people come in for the tours,” said Sinjin Carey, a tour ambassador who now works in the new alumni center. “It definitely represents the campus and makes it a more inviting place.
Like much of the University’s recent construction, the alumni center was built with sustainability in mind. The building has earned LEED Gold certification but is working toward Platinum status. Features such as angled metal mesh panels on the outside of the building, which absorb 35 percent of the sun’s rays, and a bioswale, which uses plants to filter waste water from the building before it is drained back to the Willamette River, help keep the building sustainable. Parts of the building are made from reclaimed wood, including the reception desk which is constructed from a tree that once fell on then-Lundquist College of Business Dean Jim Bean’s car.
Rumors have abounded about restrictions on staff work spaces, including that staff in the new building were not allowed to have family photos on their desks. Farkas was eager to put these rumors to rest. He explained that, although large-scale plants and images were discouraged, staff are more than welcome to decorate their areas.
Farkas similarly said that staff were not being held to a different dress code. While “business” or “business casual” clothing is encouraged, there isn’t a written code enforced.
“We wanted to try and put our best foot forward,” Farkas said. “It would be far-fetched to call it a dress code.”
One new change that is being encouraged is not eating at one’s desk. UO Foundation Director of Operations Hilary Hefferlin explained the new emphasis of getting people to eat away from their desks.
Farkas also explained that this gets people up and moving, which is both better for them and better for collaboration, as staff from different departments gather together to eat, which fosters new working relationships.
“It’s something we’ve been trying for years, to get the aroma of someone’s curry lunch not at their desk, but elsewhere,” Hefferlin said.