As the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire prepares for the first time in its history to finish spring semester classes entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work has begun on a new facility that will be the main entry point for the more than 17,000 prospective students, parents and others who typically visit campus during the year. It also will be a home on campus welcoming the more than 95,000 UW-Eau Claire alumni who live around the world.
Construction of the new Flesch Family Welcome Center is now underway, with expected completion in summer 2021. The $5.5 million facility, which is being constructed entirely with funds donated by generous alumni and university supporters, is on university land along Roosevelt Avenue across from Schneider Hall, on the site of the existing visitor kiosk and three previously razed homes.
The university’s Admissions Office as well as the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Alumni Association offices will be in the new center.
The center name honors Tom and Jeannie Flesch, UW-Eau Claire alumni who made a lead gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in support of the project. Tom Flesch is a 1974 UW-Eau Claire business administration and economics graduate, and Jeannie Flesch graduated in 1973 with a degree in business education. Tom Flesch is chairman and CEO of the Gordon Flesch Co. Inc., headquartered in Madison and one of the largest independent providers of office technology solutions in the nation. Tom and Jeannie have been longtime UW-Eau Claire supporters, also endowing student scholarships and supporting the Blugold Marching Band.
“The Flesch Family Welcome Center will play a key role in our efforts to continue to attract prospective students to UW-Eau Claire,” said Chancellor James Schmidt. “The welcome center will be the first place future prospective Blugolds and their families will come as they begin their campus visit and will give visitors a first positive impression of our beautiful campus.”
Kimera Way, president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and executive director of the Blugold Real Estate Foundation, said the welcome center also will provide ease of access for the many alumni and university supporters who come to the Alumni Association and Foundation offices.
“We are beyond grateful to Tom, Jeannie and the many other generous donors who saw the need for a new welcome center and whose gifts are making this building a reality,” Way said.
The need for a new welcome center was identified in the 2010-30 Campus Master Plan. Because the Flesch Family Welcome Center is privately funded and built on university land, the UW System is administering the project.