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ISSUE 118 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/15/2005

Buntrock still serves as model

By Kristina Boyer
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 15, 2005

It has been five years since Buntrock Commons opened its doors to the St. Olaf community. Called "the model for student unions in the 21st century" by Sasaki Associates principal architect Norris Strawbridge, and also hailed as "the most attractive, most student-friendly college union in the nation," Buntrock Commons represents the physical and social crossroads of campus life.

On April 7, students, faculty and staff celebrated the five-year anniversary of Buntrock Commons during "Buntrock Appreciation Day." Organized by student senators from the Student Government Association (SGA), the celebration featured a three-dimensional cake of the Buntrock building, as well as the opportunity to write the Buntrock family a thank you card.

"I’m glad I had the opportunity to express my appreciation to the Buntrocks," Rachel Favero ’05 said. "This building is amazing, and it’s easy to forget what an incredible gift it was."

Over 150 thank you cards were written to the Buntrock family, mostly from students. The students were very open when sharing their appreciation of the building, and more than one card mentioned the constellations, the Pause and the skylight as favorite features. The general sentiment was one of pride, exemplified by what an anonymous Ole wrote on one card – "Thank you for such a beautiful environment for us to gather as a community. Buntrock Commons is welcoming and makes students prouder to be Oles."

Director of Buntrock Commons Tim Schroer considered the event a success.

"It's great that after five years of being open, we continue to find new ways in which to celebrate and utilize this wonderful facility," Schroer said. "The number of students, faculty, staff and outside community members who take advantage of the Commons is overwhelming."

Buntrock Commons, which has received national recognition for its architecture and exceptional design, is one of three elements (along with the Boe Memorial Chapel and Rølvaag Memorial Library) that symbolize the college’s commitment to developing the whole person in mind, body and spirit. Together they also represent an intentional effort to replicate life on the old American village green. Nearly everything a student needs to support their academic, residential and social life can be found in Buntrock: church and library, restaurant and coffee shop, bookstore and post office, entertainment and academic activities.

Dedicated in 1999, the $26 million Commons was a gift to St. Olaf from the Buntrock family; Dean L. Buntrock, his wife, Rosemarie, their three children, Dana, Margot and Charley, and his brother Clayton Buntrock.

Founder and retired chairman of WMX Technologies, Dean Buntrock graduated from St. Olaf in 1955. Clayton Buntrock graduated from St. Olaf in 1957.

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