The center brings together functions that are crucial to the life of the college — the library, the student center, student support services and dining. It centers students’ out-of-classroom experiences — learning, social interaction, reflection and recreation — in a single place.
Augustana Magazine 2012: 'Augustana prepared me to be a CEO'
Augustana College today named its Center for Student Life in honor of Murry and Cindy Gerber of Pittsburgh. The building will be called The Gerber Center in honor of the Gerbers' philanthropic support of the college.
The Gerbers have donated $9.8 million to Augustana, placing them at the top of the list of individuals who have made substantial gifts to the college.
Murry Gerber graduated from Augustana in 1975 with a bachelor's in geology. He earned his master's from the University of Illinois, and worked at Shell Oil for many years. In 1998, he became CEO of EQT Corporation in Pittsburgh, and he was the CEO of EQT until 2010. He served on the EQT board of directors until 2012.
"The entire campus community is humbled and honored by the Gerbers' generosity," said Augustana President Steve Bahls. "Today we recommit to letting the world know just how special this building is and why it serves as a unique symbol of the liberal arts experience, and how it meets the needs of our students."
The college opened the student center in the fall of 2013, and it was dedicated on Sept. 14 that year. Since then, the center has become a hub for student life and student support on campus.
The $20 million project increased the footprint of the 39,000-square-foot Thomas Tredway Library by nearly 35,000 square feet. It serves as Augustana's dining room, living room and study. Dining for students now offers even more quick, fresh, customized options in a market-style setting on the building's fifth floor.
"The student center integrates the social and intellectual lives of our community, supporting Augustana College's commitment to student growth in mind, body and interpersonal maturity," said Carla Tracy, director of the Thomas Tredway Library.
The building was constructed with the needs of modern students in mind and was designed to be the new heart of campus life. Over the past two years it has become just that.
About Murry Gerber, Class of 1975, and Cindy Gerber
With only a backpack full of clothes, Murry Gerber rode his 10-speed bicycle from Chicago to Rock Island — 180 miles in three days — and moved into Seminary Hall to begin his life as an Augustana student.
Of the nearly 500 students in Murry's graduating class at an inner-city Chicago high school, only 25 or so went on to college.
Murry has said that in that day and age, "there were no expectations for us to go to college," as manufacturing jobs were plentiful. In fact, during his high school summers, he worked as a union steelworker. That's probably what he would have continued doing if a high school counselor hadn't encouraged him to attend college.
Cindy Gerber is a labor and employment attorney who worked in the Pittsburgh area for more than 20 years. Her practice was primarily in the area of union/management relations, executive employment agreements and employment litigation. She was a partner in private law firms for most of her career, and in 2010 she became the chief deputy public defender of Allegheny County. She has since retired from the position to establish the Cindy and Murry Gerber Foundation.
In addition to her foundation work, Cindy has served on the boards of numerous civic and charitable organizations in Pittsburgh. She is also an active volunteer with local legal aid organizations and with her children's schools.
The Gerber Center (formerly Center for Student Life)
• Built in 2012-2013, the building opened to students in August 2013
• $20 million project
• 39,000 square feet of existing space that was renovated, 35,000 square feet of new construction
• Designed to be the new heart of campus life, the building combined operations of Dining Services, Tredway Library, Student Life, Multicultural Student Life and more
• Graduated from Augustana in 1975
• Chicago native
• Majored in geology
• Master's from University of Illinois
• Worked for Shell Oil, CEO of EQT Corporation of Pittsburgh in 1998-2010, EQT board of directors until 2012.
• In 2014 he was named by the National Association of Corporate Directors as one of the Top 100 Directors in America. Gerber is on the board of directors for BlackRock, Inc., Halliburton, US Steel and Augustana College.
• Total philanthropic support of Augustana from Murry and Cindy Gerber: $9.8 million
For more information, contact Sam Schlouch, director of public relations, at 217-415-7259.