The doors are open: FSU praised for collaboration with MSCBA on building West Hall

[Cesareo Contreras]

FSU held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially “open” the new residence hall, West, on Sept. 28. West Hall has been occupied by students since the middle of August.

The ceremony was attended by alumni and members of the community who contributed to the project.

President F. Javier Cevallos kicked off the ceremony by thanking everyone in attendance. He said it was “hard to believe that it was only 18 months ago when we gathered in front of little more than a pile of dirt to break ground on this project.”

He added West Hall provides a new living experience that is popular among students. Cevallos said, “Our entire community can be proud of this facility,” and projects like these don’t happen without the dedication, support and the hard work of the people involved.

He said FSU was “honored” to be joined by State Senator Karen Spilka and state representatives Chris Walsh and Tom Sannicandro. He thanked them for their advocacy for public higher education and continued support of projects at FSU.

Cevallos recognized and thanked Kenneth Wissman, treasurer of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority (MSCBA) and Edward Adelman, executive director of MSCBA.

He thanked members of the FSU Board of Trustees in attendance – Richard Logan, Kevin Foley, Doug Richards, Richard Gregory and student trustee and junior Karl Bryan III.

Cevallos praised the hard work of FSU community members Dale Hamel, executive vice president, Warren Fairbanks, associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, and Glenn Cochran, associate dean student conduct and director of residence life. 

Senator Spilka presented FSU with a citation from the senate “in recognition of the joyous occasion of the West Hall ribbon-cutting ceremony.”

Spilka congratulated Cevallos and the “whole team” involved in the planning and construction of West.

She said FSU is not just a “jewel for the MetroWest region, but a jewel for the whole state university system. I know I’m a little biased, but I really do believe that. I’m really proud to see a new building serving over 300 students to help with their academic and personal development.”

Spilka added, “it’s wonderful to see the facilities match the engagement and the inspiration that the college curriculum provides for our students.”

She said this provides an incredible opportunity for students who attend FSU and for those being recruited to attend the University in the coming years.

Spilka stressed the important role this University plays in the economy of the MetroWest area as well as the state of Massachusetts.

She added, “We’re building the future for our students. We’re building our future for all of us, so I really applaud all of you. This will make it a little bit easier for all of us, and hopefully enhance the academic and personal experience here for our students.”

Representative Walsh said this residence hall is a departure from what he remembers in college, where his room was “a cell for sleeping.”

He said West was “designed to have this great interaction of spaces that is non-linear and has an ability to allow you to meet lifelong friends. …  This is a center of college life, and it really envelops so much more than a dormitory.”

Richard Logan, chair of the Board of Trustees and alumnus of the class of ’70, applauded everyone involved in the West Hall project. Logan recalled when he attended FSU, there were no residence halls for male students at the time.

He said West Hall was built with the “student experience” in mind.

He called West Hall a “crucial tool” to help draw students to FSU as it competes with private colleges and universities.

Amanda Forde, director of capital renewal for MSCBA, said West Hall is an “exciting addition to Framingham … that helps with the accessibility of the campus,” citing the elevator that goes to and from the parking lot and the pathway that leads up to McCarthy Center.

She added it was great to turn the giant parking lot into something for the students.

Kenneth Wissman, representing MSCBA board at the opening ceremony, said this project was a great effort of cooperation between FSU and MSCBA.

Wissman said due to the economy, when borrowing money for projects like West Hall, FSU will have to pay “less not more” when paying the money back.

Wissman conveyed the property to Cevallos and said he knows “you are going to use it to its intended purpose.”

He added, it will be a wonderful addition to FSU for years to come.

Edward Adelman, executive director of MSCBA, thanked the town of Framingham, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) and the “many” divisions at FSU including residence life and facilities and capital planning, that made this project possible.

He said, “There is a lot of data that suggests that student success is directly related to the ability to live on campus.”

He added, MSCBA is thrilled to take part in providing high-quality, affordable higher education program for FSU students.

Adelman said, “Everything we do is funded by student rents and fees. The more favorable interest rates, the more favorable construction costs, the more favorable the cost of our program to the students.

“We try to take a lot of care in developing sites that are sustainable – building buildings … that are sustainable and as affordable as possible. … We take a lot of pride in that this is the first building in the commonwealth of Massachusetts that has been funded by the proceeds of green bonds.”

He said MSCBA is looking for an investment group that is interested in underwriting this debt specifically because the proceeds of these bonds are being used for sustainable building projects in the commonwealth.

This building is designed to meet green standards and surpass LEED gold certification criteria. He said, “While this is the right thing to do because we are training the future leaders of Massachusetts, a lot of these things save money, too. They’re just practical.”

He thanked students involved in the early planning stages of the project and their enthusiasm about the construction of West Hall.

Adelman thanked Amanda Forde, director of capital renewal for MSCBA, for “getting the job done” and being “calm under pressure.”

He said she facilitated the project, organized the community and “everything you see in this building and everything you can’t see works because of Amanda.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by tours of West Hall guided by resident assistants who work in the building.

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