Plans are underway for an expansion and renovation of Sitzmann Hall beginning in spring 2009

When the Center for Catholic Studies moved from its former location at 2057 Portland Ave. into the renovated and newly named Sitzmann Hall in January 2003, we did not expect soon to announce the need for a major addition to the building; however, within a year of our arrival in the new space, it became necessary to convert the sole classroom in the building into two offices in order to accommodate the growth of center programs.

We also soon discovered that the small chapel was not fully adequate for the liturgical needs of the center, that we did not have enough storage and study space for students and that the lack of a graduate student common area made it difficult to create a sense of community. In addition, we found that we would need to reorganize the internal space of the existing building to compensate for the inadequate size of many faculty and staff offices.

All of these needs led us to begin discussions with the university, with donors and eventually with neighborhood organizations to develop a proposal for a major addition to Sitzmann Hall. After three years of discussions resulting in several design changes, the present plan was unanimously approved by the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee on Sept. 9.

The new design will provide a chapel accommodating 50 people for Masses, retreats, private prayer and Eucharistic adoration. There will be a new classroom and smaller seminar room for both undergraduate classes and graduate seminars as well as an expanded student common room and study space. A new elevator will make the building fully accessible. We will gain five additional faculty and staff offices to accommodate growth in the Catholic Studies Department and in other center programs. We also will be able to add storage facilities for center publications, new technology for the conference room, work space for our quarterly journal, Logos, storage for student files and records, additional locations for copy machines and paper storage, and a new restroom on the third floor. In addition, we will add a new plaza for outdoor receptions and a Marian shrine in the newly landscaped garden.

The addition has been made possible by a number of generous pledges from Gene and Faye Sitzmann, Jim and Mary Gearen, Joe and Teresa Lahti, David and Barbara Koch, Rich and Lisa Anderson, Dick and Maureen Schulze and a large number of other Catholic Studies donors. We are very grateful to them for their continuing support for the work of the center. We continue to raise funds in order to break ground in spring 2009, and a number of remaining naming opportunities are available within the addition. For more information about these opportunities, contact Don Briel at djbriel@stthomas.edu.