As Belmont’s alumni base continues to grow, the Office of Alumni Relations is set to move to the stucco building that now houses Plant Operations.
While Plant Ops is expected to move to the old physical therapy building on the corner of 15th and Delmar avenues by the end of the month, Alumni Relations will begin to refurbish the facility and try to make it a place alumni can come and feel welcome, said Vice President of University Advancement Dr. Bethel Thomas and Senior Director of Alumni Relations Debbie Coppinger.
Since 1951, wheen Belmont College opened its doors to their first class of 27 members, the number of graduates have continually grown to the school’s current 24,782 alumni. Nevertheless, Coppinger said alumni affairs is still fairly unknown on campus.
“99 out of 100 students and alumni could not tell you where Alumni Affairs takes place,” said Coppinger.
With that in mind, the stucco house was chosen because of its central location and close affiliation with the bell tower, a known symbol for alumni, Coppinger said.
“This has been a dream since [Coppinger] got here,” Thomas said about the origins of the plan.
Currently, all alumni relations take place in four offices in Fidelity Hall. The new space was considered around three years ago and is meant to give alumni and all those in alumni affairs a more comfortable place to call home. When completed, the Alumni House will give alumni a place where they can find parts of Belmont from their time on campus and also can check and update records. The move will also preserve the building and take it back to its original state as a clubhouse.
“It is such a logical space,” Thomas said.
While Thomas said the building has an ideal location, it also has historic context. From the time Belmont was an all-women’s school, the stucco building has been a part of there since it originally served as a clubhouse where various social clubs held their events. It has served a variety of duties over the years, and the alumni house will just be the latest on the list.
When Alumni Relations moves in to the stucco building, Plant Operations will be moving to the building on 15th and Delmar avenues behind Belmont Heights Baptist Church. The facility has previously been home to the College of Law and physical therapy department. Coppinger said they plan on leaving by the end of September, and the Office of Alumni Relations will bring an architect to the building to make any final plans before they renovate the building’s interior. From the outside, the building will look the same and keep its original structure.
The completion date for this project is yet to be confirmed, yet Thomas said it will be done as soon as possible. The house will not be ready for homecoming in February.
“Idealistically, it will be done some time in the spring,” Coppinger said.
The renovations of the house will be financially supported by the alumni, but there’s no final cost for the project since plans for the building have not been finalized. Postcards have been sent out to all alumni asking for donations. Due to two major contributions from alumni, $200,000 has already been raised.
“Because we have such generous alumni, all extra money raised will go to a scholarship fund,” Coppinger said.
She said the new facility will be a landmark for students, even after they graduate.
“The house will give visibility to students that when they leave, this is still their university,” Coppinger said.