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Student Activities Center Tops Out

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    Students sign their names and writes messages on an orange-painted beam that will be one of the final pieces used in the construction of the new Student Activities Center.

    With major construction work completed on the University of Miami’s new Student Activities Center, workers paused on May 4 to place a tree at the top of the building.

    “This marks a milestone, but we still have a long way to go,” Stephen Chang, project manager of the construction firm Moss & Associates, said to about 100 workers and UM administrators at the topping out ceremony—a tradition in the construction industry.

    The Student Activities Center, which is scheduled for completion in 2013, will include gathering places, programming space, a student organizations suite, retail outlets, and a new Rathskeller. It is being made possible by the $20 million lead gift from Tracey and Bruce Berkowitz of the Fairholme Foundation, as well as a student referendum passed in 2006 that imposed a student fee specifically for the center’s construction.

    “We wanted to give our students an activities center that’s second to none,” UM President Donna E. Shalala told construction workers, many of whom wore t-shirts emblazoned with a rendering of the center and the date of the topping out ceremony. She also thanked them for their efforts, saying that she was happy that UM could create jobs in Miami.

    As workers began dining on a catered lunch, only a few feet away from the construction site, near the Office of the Registrar, students began signing an orange-painted beam that will be one of the final pieces used to build the center.

    UM freshmen Urte Peteris, Katie Tillman, and Jiaqi O’Reilly, who live on the same floor at Stanford Residential College, happened to be strolling past when they noticed a small crowd of students gathered around the beam, taking turns signing their names and writing messages. The three, who will graduate in 2015, each signed their names and graduation year on the beam. Peteris said she’s “ecstatic” that she’ll still be enrolled at UM by the time the center is completed.

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