Dwight Hall to renovate

Dwight Hall officials will launch a $6 million, three-year capital campaign next month to fund extensive renovations and build the community service umbrella organization’s endowment.

Planners have targeted $5 million for building improvements, which include an air-conditioning system, an elevator to the second floor, additional bathrooms, external painting, interior cleaning and general technological improvements. The additional $1 million will build the group’s endowment.

Dwight Hall Alumni Relations Coordinator Brian Goldman ’05 said the renovations are essential to the success of the organization.

“In the summertime, the building is just a boiler,” Goldman said. “It really limits Dwight Hall’s ability to operate if people can’t be in their offices.”

Goldman is a staff photographer for the Yale Daily News.

The University will match or exceed Dwight Hall’s $5 million contribution toward the renovations, depending on the final cost of the improvements, Goldman said. He said the renovations will cost $10 to $15 million.

“We’re an independent organization, but we’re closely attached to the University,” Goldman said. “The project is very much a partnership.”

Yale President Richard Levin said Yale would provide more than half the cost of the renovations because while Dwight Hall is not an official University organization, students will benefit from the changes made.

“The University will profit in bearing some of the cost of the renovations,” Levin said.

As is typical with capital campaigns, the Dwight Hall campaign will begin with a 12- to 18-month “silent stage” during which fund-raisers will solicit funds from several hundred alumni and other people who have the capacity to give major gifts, Dwight Hall Board Chair Edward Swenson III ’67 said. Swenson said Dwight Hall hopes to raise 50 to 70 percent of its fund-raising goal during this period.

“I would hope we do extremely well in the advance stage and will be able to say we can do better than $6 million,” Swenson said.

Swenson said donors can either make unrestricted gifts, or they can direct their giving toward the endowment or renovations specifically.

Interest from the endowment, which Goldman said now stands at about $2 million, generates about one fourth of Dwight Hall’s annual operating budget.

In the second stage of the campaign, volunteers will solicit donations from a broader alumni audience. Goldman said he expected donations to come from alumni who serve on Dwight Hall’s board, who give annually to the organization or who hold public service jobs.

The University has agreed to give alumni donors class credit for gifts directed toward the renovations only, Swenson said. Once $5 million is raised toward physical improvements, Swenson said, the University may consider giving credit for donations to the endowment as well.

Goldman said each class’ total giving to Yale is announced at each reunion and is a source of pride to alumni. He said regular annual giving to Dwight Hall is not counted toward total giving.

Levin said Yale does not usually award class credit for non-University giving, but the University had credited gifts toward the Slifka Center and St. Thomas More Chapel.

Swenson said the improved economy may help the campaign, although it is not the reason organizers chose to begin the fund-raising drive next month.

“We might be lucky with [the economic recovery],” Swenson said.

Magni Hamso ’05, a member of the homeless advocacy group Respect Line, said in an e-mail that the group uses Dwight Hall’s facilities extensively. She said some community members belonging to the group use wheelchairs or have weak legs, and meetings have been moved to the first floor to accommodate them.

“A renovated Dwight Hall will make Respect Line seem much more organized to our members and to people we meet with,” Hamso said.

Dwight Hall is an Old Campus landmark. The organization will launch a $6 million renovation this January.
Emmanuelle Massicot
Dwight Hall is an Old Campus landmark. The organization will launch a $6 million renovation this January.

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