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MU breaks ground for new Jesuit Residence

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Marquette administrators broke ground in early August for the construction of a new Jesuit residence building to be located between the Alumni Memorial Union and Schroeder Hall. Photo by Yue Yin / yue.yin@marquette.edu

Marquette administrators broke ground in early August for the construction of a new Jesuit residence building to be located between the Alumni Memorial Union and Schroeder Hall. Photo by Yue Yin / yue.yin@marquette.edu

The $15 million Jesuit Residence hall to be constructed in the coming months is projected to be complete by fall 2015, said Brian Dorrington, a spokesman for the university.

The old Jesuit Residence hall, 1404 W. Wisconsin Ave., which has been said to be too costly to renovate, is expected to begin demolition by May 2016, said Kathleen Kugi-Tom, project manager in the Office of the University Architect.

The university broke ground for the new building on Aug. 15 after nine months of fundraising to meet the $15 million goal.

Fundraising was completed after two separate $1 million donations were announced by the university earlier in August, one from the Bernice Shanke Greiveldinger Charitable Trust and another from an anonymous alumnus and his wife.

“In my short time on campus, I’ve already been amazed at the generosity and passion of our Marquette University alumni base,” said University President Michael Lovell in a news release.

Two other large donations came from the alumni couple Ray and Kay Eckstein, who donated $5 million in March, and another anonymous benefactor who earmarked $7.5 million to the project from a $10 million gift in January.

The five-story building will be 40,000 square feet and will be located between the Alumni Memorial Union and Schroeder Hall, on the 1400 block of W. Wells St., where a parking lot for Schroeder Hall currently sits.

The new project will house most of the Jesuits on campus, featuring 25 resident rooms and five guest rooms. It will also include garden space and a chapel on the side of the building that is more accessible to the community.

The site of the old building will be converted to green space, eliminating one of the oldest structures on campus.

Originally built in 1916 as the Stratford Arms Hotel, Marquette purchased the property in 1962. It became home to the Jesuit community in 1973.

Despite its historical background, the aging facilities have become a nuisance for the Jesuits. The worst case took place in October 2013, when three residents were displaced from their rooms after a pipe burst on the fourth floor, flooding all floors beneath it and damaging hundreds of books and manuscripts.

PLANNING FOR A DECLINE IN JESUITS

The Rev. Jeff LaBelle, rector for the Jesuit community at Marquette, said the university had to take into account the general decline in Jesuits when planning the new building, which was designed by Kubala Washatko Architects.

“When we planned the number of rooms, we planned a reduced number,” LaBelle said.

This year, Marquette has a total of 48 Jesuits on campus, but LaBelle said he expects that to decline by 12 to 15 members next year.

That underscores a much larger trend of a decline in what has been commonly understood as the strongest order within the Catholic Church. In the ’60s, more than 36,000 clergy claimed membership in the order, but today that number sits under 19,000.

Reasons for the trend are elusive, but the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus blamed a change in mass culture for the drop. Degree six of the congregation says, “Exaggerated individualism and consumerism have encouraged resistance to the powerful call of community service found in our mission.”

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 to include time estimates for the demolition of the old Jesuit Residence building.

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