Another Relays has come and gone. We crowned a new Beautiful Bulldog, Prudence; I jumped into the fray at Street Painting; and many braved the cold and rainy weather to watch world-class athletes compete on the Blue Oval. We also welcomed many alumni home and hosted the Board of Trustees quarterly meeting.
Beyond the flurry of activity that Relays and the end of the semester brings, we've enjoyed many positive developments on campus.
In April, we announced two new projects that will transform the Drake Neighborhood and elevate the University's presence in our immediate community.
As you may recall, we announced last October that two parcels of Drake-owned property located south of University Avenue on both sides of 26th Street will be redeveloped. In furtherance of this goal, the University recently agreed to sell that land to Nelson Construction & Development, which plans to build new retail venues, a boutique hotel, market-rate apartments, and urban-style row homes on the property. This redevelopment project is a powerful way for Drake to engage with and support our neighborhood—a key objective of our Continuous Improvement Plan.
The second is a new Boys and Girls Club that will be located on campus. Named for Gregory and Suzie Glazer Burt—Suzie is a Board of Trustees member and longtime supporter of both Drake and the Boys and Girls Club—the club will be just the third Boys & Girls Club in the country to be located on a private college campus. The club will serve an estimated 170 youth in its first year, growing to 225 by year five. This project will meet a critical need in the neighborhood and elevate our outreach and impact among our neighborhood families. The Burt Club will be located at 25th Street and Forest Avenue, just north of the Fine Arts Center. We expect construction to begin in the spring of 2018.
Over the past several months, we have also announced the hiring of several new leadership positions, all of whom I'm confident will help move the University in new and exciting directions.
Dan Connolly will be the next dean of the College of Business and Public Administration—Dan's extensive leadership experience within higher education and background in building programs, student experiences, and community partnerships make him well prepared to capitalize on the CBPA's momentum. You can read more about Dan's background here.
Erin Lain, AS'06, LW'09, GR'15, is Drake's Associate Provost for Campus Equity and Inclusion (APCEI)—a new position created this academic year. In addition to being an alumna, Erin has served in a variety of roles in the Drake Law School since 2009. Her extensive work and scholarship in the areas of diversity and inclusion will benefit the University immensely.
Jerry Parker has begun his duties as Dean of Students—he had been serving as interim dean of students since September. Jerry earned his doctorate in higher education leadership from Texas A&M University, and came to Drake in May 2012. Jerry's leadership and enthusiasm for the student experience has already benefited many Drake students, and I know he will continue to ensure Drake is an exceptional place to live and learn.
Work continues to progress on our STEM@DRAKE complex. If you haven't been to campus lately, you'll be amazed at the transformation happening with these two new buildings. This summer, we will finish preparations for the grand opening, installing features such as classroom technology, artwork, and furniture. Both buildings are on schedule to be ready when classes begin in the fall. We are looking forward to a formal ribbon cutting ceremony in October to celebrate this new chapter in Drake's history. I can't wait to see the end result, and know these state-of-the-art facilities will benefit Drake for years to come.
Clearly, Drake has a bright future ahead, as do our students. Last weekend 1,100 students walked across the stage at Commencement and became Drake alumni. They are entering the world armed with an exceptional education, incredible professional preparation and experience, and memories that will last a lifetime. They have big shoes to fill—the Class of 2016 had a 99 percent accomplishment rate.
These collective examples all contribute to the exceptional Drake experience our students enjoy—an experience made possible by the generosity of our leadership donors in the President's Circle. Thank you for your ongoing support and all you do for Drake!