Topping Out Ceremony Remarks

The following is a transcript of the address given by President James T. Harris III at the Learning Commons Topping Out Ceremony on Dec. 19, 2019

"Constructing a new building —
creating a new space on campus for students to study, collaborate and learn — is a tremendous milestone
in the history of any college campus.

And here, at the University of San Diego,
it marks the beginning of a renaissance,
a rebirth, a new and exciting time
for growth and change and enlightenment.

Indeed, the construction of the Learning Commons,
is part of USD’s Renaissance Plan.

It’s a plan to renovate some of our most cherished spaces on campus,
as well as to construct new buildings
in order to amplify learning
and to enhance the overall student experience.

The Renaissance Plan includes:

  • Building the Learning Commons;
  • Renovating Copley Library — right next door;
  • Restoring Camino, Founders and Sacred Heart Halls;
  • Building the Knauss Center for Business Education; and
  • Renovating Olin Hall.

As you can see, construction on the Learning Commons is well underway.

The Learning Commons will be two stories and more than 36,000 square feet.

It will be a mixed-use educational facility.
It will offer our students:

  • 24-hour collaborative study space;
  • grab ’n’ go food service;
  • 12 standard classrooms;
  • 1 double classroom;
  • 8 collaborative study spaces;
  • a Towne Square; and
  • outdoor study space.

This space will be the home to our
USD Honors Program
and the USD Writing Center.

The building is expected to open in August of 2020.
However, before it does,
we are excited to take a moment
to mark this special milestone in the construction process.

As we stand here, on this site,
I would like to take a moment
to thank a handful of people:

  • The design team from Gensler Architects;
  • The building team from Rudolph & Sletten
    and all their specialty trade subcontractors,
    who are contributing their craft and expertise
    to the success of this project;
  • USD’s facilities management experts
    and the Planning Design and Construction Team,
    led by Zack Knipe
    and Senior Project Manager Meaghan Christman;
  • Mary Whelan: Executive Director of
    University Design and Collections,
    for her many contributions
    to USD’s unique and beautiful campus aesthetic;
  • And last, but certainly not least,
    the Learning Commons Stakeholder Representatives Group,
    led by Lead Stakeholder, Tom Herrinton,
    Vice Provost and Associate Professor
    of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

To honor all that they did, along with what each and every one of you did
to make this building possible, you will be invited to sign your name
on a piece of structural steel.

Eventually this section of steel will be covered over,
but you will always be a part of this building.
You will be at the heart of all that we will accomplish in this space.

Your signature will forever commemorate
your ties to the Learning Commons
and your dedication to USD."