Saint Anselm College’s home for the Gregory J. Grappone ‘04 Humanities Institute is running on schedule, set to be complete for the beginning of the 2023-2024 academic year. English Professor Gary Bouchard, executive director of the Humanities Institute, shared the project’s progress saying the major infrastructure work is complete and now crews have turned toward the building’s interior.

“We anticipate the major construction work being completed by the end of May and furnishing and decorating to take place during the summer months,” said Bouchard.

Construction has been ongoing all year behind Alumni Hall on the building that has served as a boiler room, powerhouse, studio, and print shop. According to Professor Bouchard, the Humanities Institute will be the home for two new classrooms as well as larger meeting spaces for events and readings for an estimated 50 people, such as Come Friday Forums.

Humanities Building construction site

The hope is that this space will become a powerhouse for conversation and casual discussions. Found between Alumni Hall and the Coffee Shop where foot traffic is heavy, the building’s location is ideal for the purpose of driving conversation. Professor Bouchard referred to it as “retail space,” which he believes is well suited for the nature of the humanities and that the institute will utilize this premium space on campus for indoor and outdoor events.

“Besides adding two greatly needed teaching spaces to the campus, we are creating appealing interior spaces for a wide range of activities and collaborations, as well as exterior space for public performances and commemorations,” Bouchard explains.

The idea that the college continues to emphasis the liberal arts dates back to 2015 when Professor Bouchard, and other faculty members, talked about how to ensure that Humanities would remain relevant on campus. He described the conversation during his open forum, saying, “We had a worried conversation among the seven humanities department chairs that was kind of an us against the world of STEM conversation.”

As ideas were discussed to address this problem, a seven-figure donation made by Robert and Beverly Grappone P’04 HD ’21 in their son’s memory, made the vision of a home for the humanities on campus possible. In 2018, the idea was pitched to then College President Steven R. DiSalvo, and not long after that plans were in the work of transforming the print shop into the Humanities Institute.

Construction Site

An open forum was held on November 10 to update the college community on construction progress and further address the multi-million building’s purpose.

The biggest task before winter was to address the underground work. Physical Plant and the construction team found several pipes that stretch across campus. At the time of Professor Bouchard’s forum, the main goal was to work on this piping and ensure that there are no disturbances in other buildings on campus because of this renovation.

It is important to note that the building is not being torn down and rebuilt, but renovated. While it may be easier from a construction standpoint to tear down and rebuild, Professor Bouchard and members of the team working on the project wanted to maintain the historic look of the brick building, which is a common constructional theme across the old New England campus.

During the forum, Physical Plant showed photos of all of the piping, and it was evident that the pipes were there for a long time so the construction team wanted to be meticulous in their work.

Professor Bouchard is confident that students will greatly benefit from the institute as it will serve a larger purpose on campus. “We are doing all this while preserving and celebrating the College’s history and beautifying a central and heavily trafficked part of the Saint Anselm campus. We are all appreciative of people’s patience with the construction this year, and confident that all Anselmians will be able to take pride in and benefit directly from the Gregory J. Grappone ’04 Humanities Institute for decades to come.”