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University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild's annual 'State of the University' forum was largely overshadowed by his retirement announcement.

Major announcements are typically expected at the annual “State of the University” forum.

This year’s biggest news, University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild’s intention to retire, got out a bit early. But there was more to be said during Wild’s speech Thursday afternoon in the Weasler Auditorium.

Wild discussed Marquette finances, construction projects and the relocation of the Krueger Childcare Center, noting that the last two years have presented a significant challenge.

America’s economic recession has affected Marquette’s fundraising projects and endowment, but the university has fared rather well considering the trying circumstances, Wild said. According to Wild, an additional $7 million in financial aid will be available next school year.

“The additional financial aid is for current use and new scholarship money, recognizing the needs of our students,” said Susan Teerink, director of student financial aid.

Marquette received a record 19,600 applicants for next year’s freshman class. The 2010 budget will break even, and Wild said the university’s benefactors are still making sizeable gifts, including Wylie Aitken’s $2 million gift for Eckstein Hall’s reading room and Vivian Hotuiz’s $1.8 million gift to the College of Nursing.

Aitken was co-founder of the Aitken*Aitken*Cohn law firm in California and was a 2004 recipient of the Law School’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Hotuiz recognized Marquette as the sole beneficiary of her estate 15 years before she died. She served as a World War II nurse in the Navy and continued in the medical field during her career.

Two visible signs of Marquette’s financial stability exist in the nearly complete Eckstein Hall and Friday’s groundbreaking of the College of Engineering’s Discovery Learning Center, Wild said.

The Discovery Learning Center is the first step in a two-phase, $100 million project to build new facilities for the College of Engineering. Nearly $40 million in cash funds is available and a total of $70 million has been pledged.

Completing the project’s fundraising is a priority, but Marquette cannot afford to incur more debt by taking out loans, he said.

With new buildings rising, others have been abandoned. Wild said finding use for these vacated spaces is another issue of concern.

He said Haggerty Hall, currently used by the College of Engineering, could house biology classrooms in the future. The Office of the University Architect is working with building committees to determine the possible use and cost of renovating these spaces, Wild said.

Another plan moving forward is the relocation of the Krueger Childcare Center from its current 17th Street location to 500 N. 19th St.

The new building will be a great improvement over the current facility and additional renovations will ensure it is a top notch day care service for Marquette’s families, Wild said.

More than 100 children of faculty, staff, students and alumni are currently enrolled at the center, said Amy Kaboskey, director of the Krueger Childcare Center. Kaboskey said the larger space will allow for 150 children to be cared for, although a waiting list will still remain.

According to Kaboskey, a new playground will also be constructed and the new location will open for the 2010-’11 school year.

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