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New center to provide permanent home for service groups
STANFORD -- One of Catherine Milton's chief goals when she founded Stanford's Haas Center for Public Service was to construct a building that would serve as a permanent home for voluntary student efforts on campus.
On Friday, May 8, that goal will be a step closer to reality, with groundbreaking planned for a new $3.2 million Haas Center for Public Service on the parking lot next to the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
The current Haas Center was founded in 1984, after President Donald Kennedy called on graduating students "to put some of the talent, energy and training you possess into public service."
Beginning as a single office in Owen House (an 1896 faculty residence), the center quickly grew to accommodate more than 20 student service groups and university-administered programs, including Stanford in Government, the Stanford Volunteer Network, Upward Bound, and the Public and Community Service Opportunities Clearinghouse.
Today, the house is bursting at the seams, as students work to organize educational conferences, food distribution programs, tutoring services and other public service initiatives.
"During an average school day, there are sometimes a hundred people in the building," Milton said. "You literally can't open the door and go into a hallway without having to squeeze by people. We're using every solitary corner."
In addition to being cramped, the house lacks some pertinent features. There is no conference room, and the entire structure is inaccessible to people using wheelchairs.
Perhaps the most important reason for a new public service building, though, is the symbolism it would provide.
"We've seen that the schools with the most successful public service programs, like Yale and Harvard, have one building for public service that is a strong presence in the center of campus through good times and bad," Milton said.
"Stanford now needs a permanent base for its public service activities, earmarked so that it can't be taken away 10 years from now under a different set of institutional values."
Designed by the architectural firm of William Turnbull and Associates, the new Haas Center for Public Service is to be a 14,000-square-foot, three-story structure, made of wood, with a large front porch and brick courtyard.
At least half of its open-plan office space will be reserved for students running their own public service programs. Other features will include several conference rooms for meetings and seminars, and a comfortable, informal lounge where students can "hang out."
Construction is expected to take eight months, with a grand opening set for sometime in late fall quarter 1992.
Major funding for the building was provided by the Haas family and by Tom Ford, chair of the Haas Center advisory board. In addition, the center has been selling steps of the interior staircase ($1,000 each) and courtyard bricks ($200) that can be engraved with wording of the donor's choice.
The center still needs about $400,000 to complete its goal. Information on contributing is available from Megan Swezey at the Haas Center, (415) 723-3803.
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