Home to a thousand gatherings last year alone, TCU’s alumni center must grow to meet an escalating demand for space.
by Norma Martin
Plans call for the addition of a second story to the Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center.
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by Norma Martin
When the Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center celebrates its 20th anniversary in the fall, the occasion will mark another milestone of the building’s longevity — expansion plans.
“The original [center] did what it needed to do, but it has just run out of space,” said Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. “We need more space for entertaining, meetings and dining. We love that our alumni and visitors are using the center, and we want to serve their needs.”
“It has been an incredibly well-regarded addition to the university.”Laura Miller '79
When the Kelly Center opened in 1996, TCU had about 56,000 alumni. Today, the university boasts more than 87,000 living alumni. In the last fiscal year alone, more than 1,000 events took place at the Stadium Drive location.
“It has been an incredibly well-regarded addition to the university,” said Laura Miller ’79, a past president of the TCU National Alumni Board. “It has made a big difference [for TCU] to say to alumni that ‘this is a place for you.’ It was so important for alumni to have a dedicated place.”
The center “holds the history, heart and hopes of TCU alumni,” reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an Oct. 27, 1996, article on the 22,000-square-foot building’s dedication, which included the naming ceremony for Dee J. Kelly ’50, a prominent attorney in Fort Worth.
“He was very pleased with the great amount of activity [at the center],” said Dee J. Kelly Jr., about his father, who died last year. “He was very involved, and we used the building a lot. We tried to go by there whenever we were on campus.”
When the $6 million center opened in October 1996, highlights included a library, a photo gallery, an outdoor water fountain, terraces, administrative offices, meeting rooms and 1,700 engraved brick pavers purchased by alumni and friends “to defray the center’s operational expenses,” reported TCU Magazine in its Winter 1996 issue.
“When you need to add on [to a building], it means that it is being well used — that it has been a success,” said Miller, market president of Liberty Bank in Fort Worth. “It’s crazy how much space has been stretched to accommodate demand.”
“We need more space for entertaining, meetings and dining. We love that our alumni and visitors are using the center, and we want to serve their needs.”Chancellor Boschini
Miller, who served as national board president from 2000 to 2002, and Teri Baker O’Glee ’78, who served as president from 2004 to 2006, are co-chairs of the committee charged with raising $12.6 million for the center’s expansion and renovation plans.
A major part of the center’s expansion includes adding a second floor to the current building. Administrative offices will move to the new floor, and the original level will be renovated to accommodate new and reconfigured space for group events, said Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor in university advancement, who is overseeing the project.
By far, the center’s greatest need is more space for groups between 30 and 50 people, said Hoban. In the last fiscal year, TCU hosted more than 480 events for groups in that size range.
In the center’s current space configuration, these 30- to 50-member groups often used spaces designed to hold 100 or more people, which prevented those rooms from being reserved for bigger groups.
Besides adding more meeting spaces, the center’s renovation plan includes a new outdoor entertaining space with a porte-cochère, reconfigured main lobby, dining areas and state-of-the-art electronics for group presentations.
However, the center’s planned renovation will not alter the building’s design aesthetics, Hoban said. The main floor will maintain its warm traditional flavor, with dark wood accents, while the second floor might have a more modern appeal.
“The renderings are gorgeous. It is very beautifully designed and matches the building’s architecture,” said Miller. “The Kelly Center is a physical embodiment of all the hope and opportunities you have as an alumnus of TCU.”
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