History of the Alumni Center
The NDSU Development Foundation and Alumni Association wanted to build an alumni house that would be a welcoming center for alumni and friends, an entertainment and conference space for the campus and greater community, and a home for their staff members since 1975.
In the early 1990s, as the University was gearing up for its fourth major campaign, the Foundation Trustees and Alumni Board decided it was time to build the Alumni Center as convincing evidence from a survey showed that alumni would visit and utilize it: 46 percent reported that they had been on campus in the past two years, and of those, 43 percent said they had come back to campus simply to visit. The Alumni Association had been spending a lot of money to travel to alumni when it could be capitalizing more on their trips to campus by building a center to welcome and serve them. The Alumni Center became one of five projects in a $20 million campaign that publicly launched in 1993.
The Alumni Center project began by interviewing dozens of alumni directors and visiting four centers in the region to study different types of recognition opportunities, building materials, floor plans, and interiors.
With the help of architect Richard Moorhead from The Image Group, the NDSU Development Foundation and Alumni Association started shaping the initial design of a brick and glass structure emulating the University’s most traditional buildings. A feasibility study determined the Alumni Association and Development Foundation could expect to raise $3 million for the three-floor, 30,000-square-foot facility.
Groundbreaking for the facility took place in October 1997. By March 1998, the steel and concrete foundation work was complete. The NDSU Development Foundation and Alumni Association knew they would need to raise additional funds, primarily for furnishings and initial operations, so they launched a campaign to use the floor tiles located in the two-story Diederich Atrium for engraving the names of donors, alumni, and other special guests. The McGovern Alumni Center continues to sell them to assist with operating costs.
In November 1998, the $230,000 landscape phase of the project launched, which continues to this day. The building committee met with an NDSU landscape architect professor who developed the plan and determined the products for the project.
On April 15, 1999, the Alumni Center officially opened for special events and conference space to the campus and local community.
Harry D. McGovern, '66, civil engineering, presented a $1 million gift to the NDSU Development Foundation and Alumni Association to support the NDSU Alumni Center. In recognition of the donation, the building was dedicated on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, when it officially became the Harry D. McGovern Alumni Center.
McGovern credits NDSU for teaching him sound engineering skills and business sense, which put him in a position to give back to his alma mater and establish a continuing relationship with the institution. McGovern proudly stated, “My heart remains in North Dakota and at North Dakota State University.” he said.
The center has hosted numerous alumni, campus, and outside organization events, and it continues to be a vibrant part of campus life. The building has quickly become a University symbol among the NDSU and Fargo communities.