On Saturday, February 1, 2020, trustees, faculty, parents, students, and friends gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for the redesign and renovation of the Peter Marshall French Student Center. Guests walked through the construction fencing and were greeted by student ambassadors wearing yellow hardhats and orange vests in a space that was empty of furniture and the familiar buzz of student activity, yet ready for construction to begin.
Board of Trustees President Jim Pierce ‘72, P’08 welcomed the crowd and celebrated a key milestone moment in both the With True Courage campaign and the Governor’s community: “This ceremony marks the culmination of hard work, dedication, and teamwork across the entire organization. And, this project is fully funded—that’s a big deal!”
He then thanked our generous donors without whom the project would not have been possible: “Community is a core value at Govs and your investment in the Peter Marshall French Student Center clearly demonstrates our shared commitment to community as a key ingredient of our educational approach. It’s an inspiring example of the power and impact of your belief in our courageous future together.”
Head of School Dr. Peter H. Quimby ‘85, P’14 followed Pierce and reflected on the evolution of the building over the last 40 years and the unwavering support of the French family. While Trustee Emerita Shirley French P’76, GP’09 was not able to attend, her son Steven French ‘76, P’09 and his wife Debra French P’09 were in attendance. Quimby remarked, “For those who don’t know Shirley (French)—she is a force of nature. Though she is unable to be here today, she has left an indelible mark on this campus and on the lives of generations of students. Shirley is a committed parent, grandparent, and Trustee Emerita who helped ensure that the idyllic nature of our classic New England village is preserved. And with the French family's leadership, we have collectively arrived at this moment for today's students and for future generations.”
Quimby also remarked that support for this project has come from every corner of our community: alumni, parents, past parents, grandparents, trustees, and past trustees. “We are grateful to all of you for believing in our vision for what this space can be for our students, and for stepping forward to help make that vision a reality,” he added.
Scott and Jeannine Zeller P’21 expressed excitement about the prospect of having more robust facilities for day students and a fully realized centerpiece to our vibrant community: “It’s important to us to support these renovations that will serve Governor’s well into the future.”
Peter '61 and Eva Stonebraker were early supporters of a reimagined student center, and Peter recently reflected on time as a student and his commitment to the project: “When I was a student at Governor Dummer Academy, ‘day boys’ were a small proportion of the student body, and honestly, we did not feel as though we had a home...there was no place to change or freshen up, or just to comfortably hang out. Thus, the Peter Marshall French Student Center and the day student locker rooms resonate with me as a place where students, and particularly the day students, can be at home at the Academy."
When reflecting on the impact of the renovated building, Dean of Students Jed Wartman told the audience, “The question asked on a weekend night by our students will shift from ‘What’s going on tonight?’ to ‘When should we meet at the student center?’” In its new state, the student center will serve as a hub of activity for all students and for campus programming. In addition to flexible activity spaces, a wellness studio, a cafe and grill, an outdoor terrace, and new humanities classrooms, the building will have long-awaited day student lockers and showering facilities.
After these remarks, the crowd moved outside for the ceremonial groundbreaking by Pierce, Quimby, Wartman, and French, and then to Mansion House for brunch.
The redesigned and expanded student center will open in the fall of 2020.
To view photos from the groundbreaking, click here.