I am writing with a summary of our fall 2017 Board of Trustees meeting, which took place on campus last week. It was a productive meeting in many ways, highlighted by some significant and exciting announcements.
After several years of discussion and careful planning, the Trustees approved construction of Academic East, a 78,000-square-foot facility that will sit opposite Academic West and provide space for student and faculty research, laboratory instruction, design studios, and offices for both the College of Engineering and our Department of Education. We expect construction to begin in spring 2018 and conclude in time for the start of the fall 2019 semester. The $37.9 million project will be funded through a combination of fundraising and the expenditure of existing debt, which, as I have said in the past, is an important tool for investing in and improving our infrastructure.
Among the benefits of locating education in this new facility is the ability for us to make much-needed renovations to the Olin Science Building, which will significantly enhance the spaces occupied by our colleagues in mathematics and physics. We will also renovate sections of the Dana and Breakiron Engineering buildings. The Board approved the expenditure of $900,000 to begin design work on these facilities and other infrastructure improvements.
The Board spent much of its time in executive session. The topics we discussed included our strategic planning efforts, which I first wrote to you about last month, and which officially commenced with yesterday's open forum on Development & Alumni Relations. As a brief aside, we will share with you the recording of that presentation once it is available.
We also paused to celebrate the life of Trustee Emerita Linda Greenburg '63, who passed away earlier this month. An English major as a student at Bucknell, Linda was a passionate advocate for education and the arts. She spent her career as a professor of speech and communications at Montclair State University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. In her honor, the Board offered this Resolution of Remembrance, which notes Linda's dedication as a beloved and influential member of the Bucknell community.
Last Thursday, we held our annual Academic Year Celebration Dinner. As is customary, we took time to recognize our new faculty colleagues, recent faculty appointments, and a number of outstanding awards and achievements by many of our colleagues. If you were not in attendance, I encourage you to read through those accomplishments; it is an inspiring list. This year's dinner was particularly special, as we also celebrated the conclusion of the WE DO Campaign. We recognized the dozens of campaign volunteers and donors who were able to join us, including 37 donors who each committed more than $1 million to the campaign. Among them were Bob '45 and Doris Malesardi.
It was during our February 2016 board meeting when I had the privilege of sharing with you that Bob and Doris had made what was then the largest commitment to Bucknell in University history — $20 million for future financial aid endowment. As you know, in honor of that exceptional gift, we named the academic heart of campus the Malesardi Quadrangle. And while Bob and Doris had previously indicated they wanted to do all that they could to continue supporting Bucknell, "surprised" doesn't begin to describe how I felt when, during Thursday's dinner, the couple signaled to me their intention to give an additional $10 million to Bucknell, again to future financial aid endowment. Bob and Doris' extraordinary commitment to and faith in Bucknell is a testament to the work you do every day to educate our students and prepare them to make meaningful contributions to society.
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