Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) staff held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 9 to launch the newly expanded and renovated Knott Academic Center.

According to Donna Klinger, executive director of MSMU’s Communications Office of University Marketing & Communications, the $9.1 million project, in the making since the summer of 2019, “resulted in multiple collaborative learning spaces, new classrooms, technological upgrades, improved faculty offices, new flooring and lighting, the student-run Saxbys’ café and more.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Robert Brennan, vice-president for University Advancement, welcomed attendees, and introduced President Timothy Trainor, who thanked faculty, students, staff, donors, trustees, and alumni leaders for coming to celebrate the fruition of the project.

In his remarks, Klinger reported, Trainor emphasized the collaborations that the improved building encourages, noting, “These collaborative learning spaces are where, what I like to call intellectual collisions. – happen during informal interactions between students, and between students and faculty.”

“Meaningful mentoring also occurs, helping students on their path to leading lives of significance in service to God and others,” the university president said, adding that the center’s completion was a “successful milestone in the university’s commitment to improve the learning and living environment for students, faculty and staff.”

Trainor also mentioned other recent and future projects, including the new Frederick Health Emmitsburg healthcare center on campus, and the upcoming Coad Science Building expansion and renovation project, which will begin in Spring 2023.

The president also acknowledged the donors who helped make the improved Knott Academic Center possible, including the Bolte Family Foundation (named in honor of Richard J. Bolte, Sr. in 2011), whose foundational donation funded improvements to the business school facilities, as well as Raphael, Class of 1992, and Charlene Della Ratta, whom Trainor said, “gave generously in support of the College of Liberal Arts spaces,” Dr. John F. Donovan for supporting the Seminar Room, and Robert, Class of 1975, and MBA 1986, and Susan Bream both of whom funded the Robert & Susan Bream Academic Commons. 

Trainor also thanked contributing staff members and contractors for their hard work and dedication.  A state grant and other gifts also supported the project.

Klinger stated that Frank Bolte, Class of 1987, representing himself and his six brothers, all of whom are alumni, and Bream “gave brief, but impactful reflections on the role the Mount has played in their lives.” Closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Barbara Marinak, dean of the School of Education, who praised the Knott Academic Center as a “space that redefines collaboration and engagement in higher education.”

Msgr. McLean Cummings, director of spiritual formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, gave a blessing for the Knott Academic Center. Trainor, Bream, Della Ratta, Bolte and Provost Boyd Creasman, Ph.D., came forward together to cut the ceremonial ribbon as the crowd clapped and cheered.

The ceremony concluded, with student- and faculty-led tours of the facility, with stops at the John F. Donovan, Ph.D. Seminar Room; a typical classroom with enhanced technological capabilities; Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship; Saxbys’ student-run café; Honors Program suite; and Robert & Susan Bream Academic Commons.

Maryann Marotta of Marotta/Main Architects designed the 12,500 square-foot addition and the renovations to the original 49,074 square-foot building, and Morgan-Keller Construction served as the general contractor.  Morgan-Keller President and CEO Bradley Guyton is an alumnus, earning both a Bachelor of Science in business and finance and an M.B.A. from the university, Klinger reported.

One of the recently completed assets to the Knott Academic Center included a Saxbys’ sponsored café, which is being managed by Mount students and staff, as part of Saxby’s

“Experiential Learning Platform (E.L.P.),” through which, the company states, “… young people are proving that they have what it takes to mold the business movement of the future. We call these our entrepreneurial proving grounds,” the company stated.

Ribbon-cutting (from left): Boyd Creasman, Frank Bolte, Tim Trainor, Raphael Della Ratta, and Robert Bream.

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