Bridgewater College breaks ground on learning commons

bridgewater collegeThe multi-million dollar transformation of Bridgewater College’s Alexander Mack Memorial Library into a state-of-the-art learning commons was celebrated May 4, with a groundbreaking ceremony.

The John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons will serve as an active learning space and focal point for engaged learning for Bridgewater’s academic community. The facility will house the library’s collections and serve as a learning hub with a multimedia production lab, individual student study areas, peer coaching and tutoring, research support, an abundance of plug-and-play electronic outlets, group meeting spaces, on-site IT support, the Writing Center and Career Services.

Thanks to record fundraising, the Forrer Learning Commons will be the first project in Bridgewater’s history to be fully funded through charitable donations.

The new facility was made possible through a number of donors, including Bridgewater College alumna Bonnie Rhodes and her husband, John, who made a lead gift in honor of Mrs. Rhodes’ father, John Kenny Forrer.

Other significant donors include John and Carrie Morgridge, who made a gift to name the Morgridge Center for Collaborative Learning.

The facility will also include the Smith Family Learning Commons Café, the Robert H. and Mary Susan King Portico and the Beverly Perdue Art Gallery.

Additionally, a gift to the Forrer Learning Commons project will be matched by The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, which has issued a two-to-one $250,000 challenge grant.

The event included a number of interactive exhibits. Guests had the opportunity to learn to program a small robot, witness 3-D printing and experience wearing 3-D goggles. A green screen allowed participants in front of the screen to create a video of themselves in the Learning Commons and a large screen played a looped presentation depicting the completed Learning Commons. Bridgewater’s Special Collections also featured a display, with the college’s archivist answering questions.

The college plans to officially open the building in 2019.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduate students.


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