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Celebrations planned Sept. 27 and 28 for The Priory, Davies Student Center

September 21, 2012

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will mark the completion of two major facilities projects with celebratory events at The Priory Sept. 27 and the W.R. Davies Student Center Sept. 28. Both events, scheduled amid the university's Homecoming week activities, are open to UW-Eau Claire students, faculty, staff and the general public.

The Priory rededication and Children's Nature Academy open house

A rededication ceremony at The Priory (formerly St. Bede Monastery) will begin at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27, followed by an open house from 4-5:30 p.m. at the UW-Eau Claire Children's Nature Academy located on The Priory property. During the rededication ceremony, the former monastery chapel will be named Benedictine Hall in honor of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, former owners of The Priory property south of Eau Claire.

Blugold Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, purchased The Priory from the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict in October 2011. The first use of The Priory has been as the new location for UW-Eau Claire's former Children's Center, which was razed in the spring to make way for the construction of the university's new Education Building. The Children's Center has been renamed the Children's Nature Academy to reflect the nature-based curriculum and programming implemented since the move to The Priory. UW-Eau Claire and the Foundation are exploring a range of options for the university's use of the rest of The Priory facilities.

"This will be a celebration of the great opportunities presented by the acquisition of this property — opportunities for UW-Eau Claire to carry on the long standing educational mission of this facility that was so important to the sisters," said Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

The monastery property includes 112 mostly wooded acres in the Town of Washington and three building complexes totaling approximately 80,000 square feet. It is located three miles south of the UW-Eau Claire campus.

"We are thrilled with our new location at The Priory and are pleased to be offering our new nature-based programming in our beautiful surroundings, passing on to the children the same values of appreciation for and stewardship of the land that were so central to the sisters' way of life when they lived here," said Becky Wurzer, Children's Nature Academy director.

W.R. Davies Student Center grand opening

The official grand opening of UW-Eau Claire's new W.R.Davies Student Center will begin at 4 p.m. Sept. 28. The event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Davies Center's main (northeast) entrance, followed by a reception featuring food and entertainment throughout the facility.

"We're so pleased with the new Davies Student Center, and this celebration will recognize our students' integral role in the facility's development — from their commitment of financial support to their involvement in all aspects of the building's design, including its many sustainable features," said Dr. Beth Hellwig, UW-Eau Claire vice chancellor for student affairs and chair of the Davies Student Center Building Committee. "We welcome current students, alumni and community members to join us as we officially mark the opening of this grand new facility at UW-Eau Claire."

Cory Fish, UW-Eau Claire student body president, will be among current and former student leaders participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony with Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet.

"The Davies Student Center has already become a favorite gathering place for students and a popular facility for a diverse array of groups from the community," Fish said. "UW-Eau Claire students and alumni who have supported and continue to support this outstanding facility are proud of what we've accomplished through our collective efforts."

Current and former UW-Eau Claire student leaders, community leaders, area legislators, and members of the Davies Center design and construction teams will be among those attending the grand opening event. The event also will feature the musical talents of UW-Eau Claire students and faculty and food provided by Sodexo, which operates Blugold Dining at UW-Eau Claire.

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