People from throughout MIT will gather Friday to dedicate two state-of-the-art buildings designed to enhance the sense of community in MIT's living spaces and play spaces.
The Albert and Barrie Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center and Simmons Hall are architectural monuments to the community philosophy expressed in the 1998 report of the Task Force on Student Life and Learning, which emphasized the importance of strengthening the informal learning among faculty, students and staff that takes place outside the classroom or laboratory.
"Athletics play a powerful role in bringing students and faculty from across campus together in activities that teach teamwork, build self-confidence, and encourage perseverance, dedication and personal fitness," said the report. Residences at MIT, it said, "are the central unit of student organization, and they act as a haven for social, cultural and intellectual exchange among students."
Those sentiments were shared by Albert Zesiger (S.B. 1951) and his wife Barrie Zesiger, a member of the MIT Corporation, and by Richard Simmons (S.B. 1953), also a member of the Corporation, and his family. Each family donated $20 million - the major gifts that made these buildings possible.
The MIT community is invited to the formal dedications on Friday, Oct. 4. The Zesiger Center dedication ceremony will take place in the pool auditorium at 2 p.m. The Simmons Hall dedication ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. in a tent on Vassar Street directly across the street from the new dormitory.
Alex d'Arbeloff (S.B. 1949), chair of the MIT Corporation, will welcome the MIT community to the dedication of MIT's recently opened athletic complex which includes two pools, one an Olympic-class 50-meter pool with seating for 450 spectators, an 11,000-square-foot fitness center, court facilities, a sports medicine area, administrative offices and locker rooms.
Speakers at the Zesiger dedication ceremony include President Charles M. Vest; Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics John Hansman, Jr. (Ph.D. 1982), who served as co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning; Kirsten M. Alberi (Class of 2003), the captain of MIT's varsity swim team; Larry G. Benedict, dean for Student Life; Candace L. Royer, director of Athletics and head of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation; and the Zesigers, for whom the center has been named.
In addition to the Zesigers, donors of named spaces within the center include Brit Jepson d'Arbeloff (S.M. 1961), Alex d'Arbeloff, Thomas P. Gerrity (S.B. 1963), Harold J. Muckley (S.B. 1939) and Elizabeth Muckley, Mary Frances Wagley (S.B. 1947), Michael Kasser (S.B. 1960), Dorian Punj (S.B. 1973), Paul F. Mosher (S.B. 1955) and Wanda L. Mosher, Thomas W. Folger (S.B. 1948), Harry Steinman (S.B. 1933), and Anthony Jules (S.B. 1992). Donors of named spaces within the Howard W. Johnson Athletics Center include William Z. Hwa (S.B. 1940), Donald E. Shobrys (S.B. 1975) and Thomas and Nicole Hynes (parents of Tod Hynes, Class of 2002).
President Vest will welcome the MIT community to the dedication of Simmons Hall, which opened this September and exemplifies MIT's commitment to community involvement in the development of the residential system. Speakers at the dedication include Robert M. Silbey, dean of the School of Science and co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Student Life and Learning; Vikash Gilja (Class of 2003), house president of Simmons Hall; Chancellor Phillip L. Clay (Ph.D. 1975); John M. Essigmann (Ph.D. 1976) and Ellen M. Essigmann (Ph.D. 1980), housemasters at Simmons Hall; and donors Richard P. Simmons, Amy Sebastian Simmons and Brian Simmons. Alex d'Arbeloff will offer closing remarks.
In addition to Richard P. Simmons and his family, those recognized for their contributions to Simmons Hall will include William Leitch (S.B. 1956) and Betsy Leitch, whose endowment supports a new professorship in residence held by housemaster John Essigmann.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 2, 2002.