The graduate building, which is set to open in 2017, will be an addition of 34,000 square feet to the original SPEA construction.
A host of offices, meeting rooms and collaborative spaces, primarily intended for graduate affairs, will free up some of the congestion in the SPEA atrium.
At the beginning of the procession, crowds gathered in the atrium to warm up, mingle with one another and drink complementary coffee and hot chocolate. Shortly thereafter, attendees walked across the street to gather at the foot of the stairs by Wells Library to take a group photo.
“The goal was to get everyone fired up about our future plans,” said Jim Hanchett, director of marketing and communications at SPEA. “It’s about making a large event that everyone can attend and have a part in.”
Dean of SPEA John Graham, Executive Associate Dean Michael McGuire and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs Kristen Grønbjerg posed at the front with their shiny and commemorative shovels.
The group walked to the IU Auditorium in order to match the “Forward Together” theme of the procession. After filing into the hall, they listened to the words of IU President Michael McRobbie, Provost Lauren Robel and Dean Graham.
“As we break ground for the O’Neill Graduate Center, all of us look forward to a facility that will help SPEA’s students and faculty make important and lasting contributions that will strengthen our state, our nation and our world,” McRobbie said.
SPEA graduate students Daniel Esposito and Yasmine El-Gohary also provided brief speeches for the event. Esposito and El-Gohary celebrated the prospects of the new building and spoke of how the space will be used to improve the futures for the school and its students alike.
“We admire and applaud Mr. O’Neill for his public service, his corporate leadership, his advocacy and his philanthropy,” Esposito said. “As we watch the O’Neill Center go up, let’s be reminded of what it looks like to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.”
The ceremonial groundbreaking also took place at the auditorium. McRobbie and Robel were joined by IU Trustees Philip Eskew and Anna Williams to scoop the proverbial first dirt out of the ground.
The commemoration is a part of the promotional and developing events taking place during the year, which celebrate the upgrades underway for SPEA.
Since 1972, SPEA’s many accredited undergraduate and graduate programs have seen curriculum expansions and increases in student enrollment.
The construction of the graduate center aims to further the school’s advancement by providing state-of-the-art technological amenities and services and allowing more space for faculty, who can use the extensions to plan for the future of their school’s programs.
“We will use this space to share ideas, to experiment, to debate, to dream, to dissent,” El-Gohary said. “And we will leave this space prepared and inspired.”