Feb 14, 2023
By Cassidey Kavathas, '24
Plassmann Hall at St. Bonaventure University has long been central to campus life, both academically and outside the classroom. Plassmann is now receiving a makeover through the largest fundraising campaign in the university’s history: A Bolder Bonaventure: Ignite. Inspire. Invest.
“Plassmann is the core of our mission and the heart of the university because of what happens here,” said Dr. David Hilmey, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, whose office is in Plassmann.
St. Bonaventure publicly launched the Bolder Bonaventure campaign in the fall of 2022 and seeks to raise $125 million by May 31, 2025.
The campaign prioritizes funding for multiple areas of the university through pillars such as Academic Mission and Student Experience. This pillar, which includes the Plassmann makeover, spans the campus, from academics and the arts to student life and cross-cultural interaction.
The university’s academic mission and each student’s experience are closely intertwined.
“There is a liberal arts core to everything we do here,” said Hilmey. “This is intentional, giving students an appreciation and understanding that comes from values. The comprehension students are receiving in every possible way, morally, also comes out of this way of thinking, which will have a big impact on our society.”
Another priority of the campaign is to generate funding to develop better space for collaboration, discussion and access to faculty and technology.
“(Student experience) means everything that a student touches while they’re on campus. So, things that are in the classroom, in the residence halls, in clubs and organizations. It means any of the ways that students can get involved in leadership and service,” said Chris Brown, executive director of the Student Success Center and Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program. “It’s what students do while they’re here at Bonaventure.”
Renovations to Plassmann are already underway, kick-started by a million-dollar gift from the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province. They include redesigned classrooms with new furniture to encourage collaboration, relocating faculty offices from the basement level to upper floors, creation of large multipurpose spaces, expansion of the Student Success Center, as well as new windows, HVAC and ventilation systems. The Student Success Center, First Year Experience Programs and HEOP are located in Plassmann, as is Brown’s office.
“Every student, no matter their major, will likely have a course in Plassmann. When they’re going to class, they’re not just walking to class, but they’re walking right through the offices that provide academic support,” said Brown. “Our offices being located here breaks down the idea that Plassmann is just where you go for classes. It’s also where our students go to hang out. … The life of what goes on in Plassmann is certainly rich in the classroom, but it continues throughout the day and into the night with all of the extra services that are happening here.”
Tucker Reilly, a senior English major with a law and society minor, has spent the majority of his academic career in Plassmann for classes, tutoring, mock trial in the law and society classroom and just hanging out in the lounges. Reilly enjoys having a majority of the liberal arts majors in Plassmann.
“Updated facilities are a better way to reinforce Plassmann as a general liberal arts building. New offices and workspaces can offer a nice upgrade while keeping the same feeling of the building as it was when I first came here,” said Reilly. “My best memory is taking over those classrooms during finals for study sessions.”
Experiences like Reilly’s are exactly what Hilmey hopes for with the facilities being updated. Classrooms and study spaces being closer to faculty offices will encourage “more personal interactions in Plassmann and deep questions and discussions outside the classroom,” Hilmey said. He stressed that connections are key to the student experience.
“The more options and spaces we have to gather in an academic mindset, the more connections and a better sense of belonging on the academic side,” Hilmey said. “This will allow for more connection outside of the sterile feeling of the classroom.”
Another important goal of this pillar is to boost scholarship support and financial aid.
“One of the most important things we can be doing is offering competitive scholarship packages,” said Bob Van Wicklin, vice president for University Advancement. “Scholarships award students who have merit and help those who have financial need.”
Brown agrees and feels that the biggest obstacle facing a student coming to college is finances.
“Anything that touches financial aid is crucial. When students think about the major barriers of attending college, they often think of the cost,” Brown said. “The more financial aid we can provide, the more we’ll see students able to take advantage of all aspects of the student experience.”
Van Wicklin looks forward to showing alumni not only Plassmann but all of the improvements ultimately generated by the campaign.
“When someone supports the Academic Mission and Student Experience pillar of the campaign, they are helping to enhance academic programs and student services, refurbish learning spaces and student housing areas, and increase financial aid,” Van Wicklin said. “All of which equals access and a rich environment for every student.”
Hilmey is excited to help build A Bolder Bonaventure. “What’s so special about this campaign is that alumni and donors can find where best they can contribute, exemplifying what they stand for and providing transformational experiences,” he said.
Hilmey will be a guest on WSBU 88.3 FM “The Buzz” on Feb. 17, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET to talk about the Academic Mission and Student Experience as a pillar in the Bolder Bonaventure campaign. The interview will be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l0kF9w42uE
Questions may be submitted in advance by email to The Buzz at email@example.com
or during the program via The Buzz’s Twitter account (@wsbu). Tag the account and use #ABolderBonaventure hashtag when posting a question.
To learn more about the Bolder Bonaventure campaign, please visit www.sbu.edu/ABolderBonaventure