Expanded Student Union Puts Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle

The sense of community that’s always unified students, faculty and staff members at Rose-Hulman will be elevated even more through the institute’s newly expanded and renovated student union. After two years, the construction is finally over and the glass-fronted, nearly 104,000-square foot facility with its lighted tower is ready to be dedicated Friday.

In providing the project’s $9-million lead gift, Linda and Mike Mussallem hoped to create a place where the campus community could come together, relax and enjoy healthy dining—relishing time to refresh and recharge from the rigors that come with an academically challenging education in science, engineering and mathematics.

“This union will help with healthy food choices and a comfortable environment for friendships and a sense of community,” says Mike Mussallem, a Gary, Ind., native who rose to become chairman and chief executive officer of California-based Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease, as well as critical care and surgical monitoring. He earned a chemical engineering degree from Rose-Hulman in 1974.

The Mussallems will join family and friends, along with several members of the Rose-Hulman campus and student communities, in dedicating the building at 5 p.m. Friday.

The $25-million project has produced these features:

  • Expanded student lounge spaces in “The Living Room” with a Living Wall created from 1,458 potted tropical plants, arranged in a curvilinear design to represent movement.
  • A coffee/smoothie bar
  • A Chauncey’s café with an authentic pizza oven and a kitchen where chefs demonstrate the preparation of healthy meals
  • New outdoor patio and gathering spaces, where students can relax with a good novel or visit with friends, and a new “campus green” where a pond used to be—a grassy spread ideal for throwing a Frisbee or play a pickup game
  • A spacious main dining room with healthy food choices presented by a new food service provider, Bon Appetit, which prepares fresh-cooked, high-quality food from scratch using products from local farmers.
  • A 120-person dining/meeting space (“The Lake Room”) and an expanded faculty/staff dining room.
  • New state-of-the art spaces for the Office of Career Services.
  • New and refurbished conference rooms, with high-quality audio-visual technology.

“Our desire from the beginning was to create a building that promoted a better quality of life, stronger relationships and healthier food options. That’s what has happened,” says Erik Hayes, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. He points out that student surveys have heavily endorsed the building and Bon Appetit’s food service.

“We now have a full-fledged union – a place that everyone can call home,” says Rose-Hulman President Jim Conwell. “We’re indebted to the support Linda and Mike Mussellem have provided for this project, helping Rose-Hulman meet its long-range goals.”

The Mussallems’ gift was the second-largest cash gift presented to the institute by an alumnus.

“We feel very fortunate to give back,” Mike says. “Linda and I look forward to spending time in the student union on our visits to campus, along with students, faculty, staff and other visiting alumni.”

Mike is a Rose-Hulman trustee who earned an honorary degree from the college in 1999 and was the featured speaker at the institute’s 2015 commencement. Linda spent the first 15 years of her career in industry doing materials management, but ultimately transitioned to her true passion of interior design. The couple is originally from the Midwest, now living in California, and recently celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.

 


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