About the Alumni Center
Since 1975, when NDSU conducted the second major campaign in its history, the University’s Alumni Association and Development Foundation had dreams of an alumni house. They envisioned a welcoming center for alumni and friends, an entertainment and conference space for the campus and greater community, and a home for the alumni association and foundation staff. For 20 years, however, the project took a back seat to other important university needs, including scholarship funds, faculty endowments, and other campus facilities.
In the early 1990s, as the institution was gearing up for its fourth major campaign, the Foundation Trustees and Alumni Board decided it was finally time to build the center. The association and foundation office spaces were dilapidated and overcrowded. Also, convincing new evidence from a 1990 survey showed that alumni would visit and use a center: 46 percent reported that they had been on campus in the past two years. Of those, 43 percent said they had come back to NDSU simply to visit. We determined that the Association was spending a lot of money to travel to alumni when it should be capitalizing more on their trips to campus by building a center where we could welcome and serve them. The Alumni Center became one of five projects in a $20 million campaign, which we publicly launched in 1993.
We began researching the alumni center project in 1990 by interviewing dozens of alumni directors and visiting four centers in our region to study different types of recognition opportunities, building materials, floor plans and interiors.
With the help of the architect, Richard Moorhead from The Image Group, we started shaping the initial design of a brick and glass structure emulating the University’s most traditional buildings. Our feasibility study determined we could expect to raise $3 million for the project. At that time, we decided to build a three-floor, 30,000 square foot facility.
We broke ground for the facility in October 1997. By March, 1998, the steel and concrete foundation work was complete. Before ground breaking, we determined that we would need to raise additional funds, primarily for furnishings and initial operations. In March 1998, a campaign was launched for naming opportunities on floor tiles located in the two story atrium entrance. We continue to sell them to assist with operating costs.
In November 1998, we launched the landscape phase of the project, which continues to this day. Our building committee met with an NDSU landscape architect professor who developed the $230,000 plan and determined the products.
On April 15, 1999 the staff moved into the new center. In May the campus was invited to an Open House. In July of 1999, we opened The Alumni Center for special events and conference space to campus and the local community.
The Alumni Center was officially dedicated on October 8, 1999. A preliminary reception was held at the President’s home. A trumpet sounded to announce the Center’s dedication ceremony across the street, and the reception’s guests streamed over to join other visitors. Key volunteers made speeches about the long-awaited facility. After the ribbon cutting, student ambassadors escorted major donors into the building to the space named in their honor. All 350 attendees were invited in to tour the Center and feast on a brunch buffet accompanied by live jazz music.
The building has hosted numerous alumni, campus, and outside organization events since April 1999, and it continues to be a vibrant part of campus life. The building has quickly become a University symbol among the NDSU and Fargo communities.
The main entrance to the 30,520 square foot Alumni Center is oriented on axis with the NDSU President’s House. The entrance is flanked by two 12’ wide by 9’ high brick reliefs of stampeding bison carved by Grand Forks artist, Katie McCleery. A bison weathervane, donated by Building Committee Chairman, Warren Diederich, stands above the entrance cupola.
The first floor accommodates the Alumni Center Receptionist; Alumni Center Director’s office; Alumni Association offices; and Crary Lounge. Crary Lounge is a traditional wood paneled lounge with a fireplace and wet bar. It can accommodate up to 25 people for a reception. The first floor areas surround the Center’s two story Atrium which is designed to seat 130 people in a banquet setting. The Atrium was officially renamed to the “Diederich Atrium” in 2004. A rededication celebration was held during Homecoming 2004. The Diederich Atrium receives day light from overhead skylights as well as large windows and glass doors which provide access to a brick paved terrace and landscaped courtyard with pergola and gazebo. The Diederich Atrium has a traditionally detailed wainscot and richly patterned ceramic tile floor with individual tiles engraved with donors names.
The second floor is reached by a monumental staircase, or elevator, which terminates at The Hendrickson Lounge which overlooks the Diederich Atrium. The Stegner Terrace, a small exterior balcony, provides a great view of the NDSU campus. The second floor is home to the Development Foundation offices; the Stenehjem Executive Conference room; and The Klefstad conference room. The Stenehjem Executive Conference Room has high backed leather chairs and a large mahogany conference table to seat 16. It overlooks the courtyard. The Klefstad Conference room seats 30, and can be subdivided into two identical 410 square foot conference rooms. The Dawson Gallery is outside of the Klefstad Conference room and houses an antique gun collection.
The lower level of the facility houses Accounting, the NDSU Calling Center, and Reimers Conference Room. Reimers Conference Room is the Center’s largest conference room (1492 square feet) and can seat up to 100. Reimers can also be subdivided into two individual rooms. Stone lined areaways bring natural light into the lower level conference rooms and offices.