By Andrea Jones, Public Relations & Marketing Communications
Georgia State University has received a $15 million grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation to renovate the historic Southern Bell Telephone Company buildings at 25-27 Auburn Ave. to house an innovative Student Success Center.
One of the largest gifts in Georgia State’s history, the Woodruff Foundation grant launches the fundraising campaign for the new Student Success Center with a commitment that covers a significant portion of the project’s expected cost.
Scheduled to open in fall 2023 the Student Success Center will contain a one-stop hub for the university’s nationally recognized student success services and the headquarters for the National Institute of Student Success (NISS). Truist, a long-standing and major supporter of Georgia State’s student success programs and services, has also committed grant funds to the Bell buildings redevelopment project via the SunTrust Trusteed Foundations-Thomas G Woolford Charitable Trust.
“The Woodruff Foundation has provided Georgia State with a remarkable springboard for our Student Success Center fundraising campaign,” said Jay Kahn, vice president of advancement. “We’re humbled and validated by the confidence that stalwarts of Atlanta philanthropy like the Woodruff Foundation and the SunTrust, now Truist, Foundation have in the transformational potential of advancing our proven student success models at Georgia State and throughout higher education through the Student Success Center.”
Georgia State conceived the Student Success Center as another way to serve students and eliminate barriers to high achievement by housing academic, financial and career preparation services under one roof. The building will contain the Truist Student Financial Management Center, made possible with a 2016 $2 million gift, Admissions, Student Financial Aid, Tutoring Services, International Student Services and Scholarship Resources. The Student Success Center anticipates more than 70,000 in-person visits from Georgia State students in its first year.
”In recent years, teams from more than 500 colleges and universities from across the nation and the globe have visited Georgia State to learn about our innovative approaches to supporting students from all backgrounds,” said Tim Renick, founding executive director of the National Institute for Student Success and recently named by Fortune Magazine one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. “With the generous support of the Woodruff Foundation and Truist Foundation, the Student Success Center not only will help thousands of Georgia State students succeed, it will also enable visitors to learn about our programs first-hand in a state-of-the-art facility.”
The renovation of the Bell buildings represents another significant phase of the university’s redevelopment and adaptive reuse of historical downtown Atlanta structures. Constructed in 1907 and 1922, the buildings originally served as the switchboard center for the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company (now AT&T). Largely in disuse and disrepair since the 1980s, the buildings were purchased by Georgia State in 2007 in anticipation of future needs. In keeping with the university’s strategy for expanding its downtown campus through the acquisition and renovation of existing structures, Georgia State commissioned a feasibility study to determine if the buildings were structurally sound and suitable for adaptive reuse. The study found the overall structure sound and sturdy enough that floors could be added to the three-story building in the future if needed.
Revitalizing the Bell buildings, at the gateway to the Martin Luther King Jr., historical district on Auburn Avenue, will also honor and advance the rich legacy of the area.
Founded in 2020, the NISS is advancing Georgia State’s efforts to catalyze change throughout higher education by sharing its proven programs, systems, technologies and organizational structures with other colleges and universities. Since 2015, 500 institutions serving more than three million students have visited Georgia State to learn about its student success models. The renovated Bell buildings will offer facilities, such as training rooms, technology-enabled adviser offices and conference space, critical for hosting peer institutions.
For more information on the Georgia State Student Success Center and available funding opportunities, visit giving.gsu.edu/student-success-center. Learn more about the NISS and student success at Georgia State at success.gsu.edu.
Originally published at the Georgia State University News Hub.