NORTH CANTON  Walsh University hosted a community open house of its new academic building, The Marlene and Joe Toot Global Learning Center, on Feb. 9. It’s a state-of-the-art and technology-infused academic building. It officially opened to students on Jan. 22.

The open house was free and open to the public. Visitors were able to explore the Global Learning Center and take tours of the collaborative classrooms, new Chapel, digital labs and special features of the facility. The building is designed to provide spaces where students of all disciplines can study, learn and grow, with an emphasis on digital literacy and collaboration.

Funding for the building came through donor contributions via Walsh’s We Believe Campaign. Launched in 2012, the campaign was complete at the end of 2017 and was the largest capital campaign in Walsh history raising nearly $32 million.

"Planning and construction of the building was a six to seven-year project," Vice President for Administration and Chief Information Officer Dr. Brian Greenwell said. "All of our students have a global aspect to their degree programming. For example, students are required to create a digital artifact such as a movie, documentary or a podcast and the technology in this building will provide the tools needed to complete such projects.

The two-story, nearly 44,000-square-foot building features complete wireless connectivity; Saint Teresa of Calcutta Chapel; Cavalier Café; and state-of-the art labs to support growing academic areas in computer engineering, digital media, graphic design and video production. It houses three interdisciplinary research institutes on civic engagement (the James B. Renacci Forum and Center for Civic Engagement), food design/sustainability (the Food Design Institute) and community health (the Gary & Linda Byers Family Institute for Community Health.)

Visitors are greeted in the lobby of the building by a 16-foot Kenan Advantage Group Video Wall. The video wall will highlight student projects.

"One of the many ways we’ll use the video wall is to showcase projects completed by students, it’s a one of the focal points of the building. We have digital classrooms on both floors that are equipped with interactive technology including interactive projectors that can display all kinds of content and its all touch generated. Plus, now students can use their mobile devices during lectures for research and other uses," Greenwell said.

Greenwell said the James B. Renacci Forum & Center for Civic Engagement Center provides the opportunity for faculty and students to engage in public affairs and issues which impact local and national communities.

The first Apple Mac computer lab on campus is inside the new Center and is used by graphic design programs. There’s also a video production area to help the campus’s communication department and to help students create digital media for their majors.

A hallway was built in honor of the Brothers of Christian Instruction. The hallway connects to Walsh’s oldest building, Farrell Hall, with a pictorial and is called the Brothers of Christian Instruction Mission Walkway.

Elements have been included in the Center’s modern design that honor Walsh’s founders, including the Chapel’s Corpus/Crucifix and Statues of Mary and Joseph commissioned in Italy for the FIC Canadian Province and now permanently housed at Walsh. In addition, several classrooms and labs have been named for patron saints, honoring the Catholic faith of the founders and University.

Plus, the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Chapel’s hand-carved wooden cross was crafted by a Walsh professor from a Farrell Hall maple tree that was originally planted by Walsh Founder Br. Dacian Barrette more than 50 years ago.

"While the building is filled with the latest in digital technology, we have one room that only includes clear and white boards that’s designed to get students involve in a think tank for design. The architecture is completely different than the rest of the buildings on campus. The feedback from students has all been positive," Greenwell said. "The building took only a little over 13 months in construction. We’re happy to have the building and have it open in a relatively short period of time."

Walsh held a dedication ceremony earlier in the day at 11 a.m. The Cavalier Marching Band and Walsh Chorale both performed. Speakers included Walsh University President Richard Jusseaume; Melissa Valle, Student Government president; Judge Sara Lioi, chair of the board of Walsh University; Marlene Toot (Class of 1985), Walsh University Board of Directors; and Br. Walter Zwierchowski, FIC, Brothers of Christian Instruction.

The dedication and blessing of the building was given by Monsignor Robert Siffrin, vicar general, Diocese of Youngstown. There was a special We Believe Campaign Wrap-Up video presentation using the Kenan Advantage Video Wall. 

People attending the dedication included Walsh University faculty, students, staff, administration, Walsh’s Board of Directors, We Believe Campaign donors, government representatives, building architects, construction team, community members and friends of the University.