Students, supporters and more gather for Tinkham Veale University Center’s ”topping off” ceremony

CWRU students and staff at the Tinkham Veale University Center topping off ceremony
Students and staff gather around the final steel beam—adorned with their signatures—at the topping off ceremony for the Tinkham Veale University Center.

Less than a year after construction began on the Tinkham Veale University Center, students and supporters gathered Friday evening to celebrate the installation of its final steel beam.

Known in construction as a “topping off” ceremony, the event first welcomed the project’s major donors to see the progress their contributions had wrought. Among those present were Ellen Mavec of the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation; Phillip A. Ranney and William B. LaPlace of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust; former chair of the university Board of Trustees and current board member Bud Koch and his wife, Katie; and former chair of the university Board of Trustees, current board member, and capital campaign committee chair Frank Linsalata and his wife, Jocelyne. Lead donor Tinkham Veale, whose $20 million commitment launched the project in 2010, passed away last fall. Still, he was prominent in people’s thoughts during the celebration.

President Barbara R. Snyder harked back to the project’s groundbreaking last May, and recalled Veale’s enthusiasm for making the ceremonial scoop with his shovel.

“He loved that moment,” Snyder said.

Before a formal topping off toast, the president also thanked the many students who have participated in the project to date, from those who served on the architect selection committee to the dozens who offered ongoing feedback on the design and contents of the space. The 82,000-square-foot structure is scheduled to open next year and include new homes for student organizations as well as multiple options for meetings, dining and informal gatherings.

As part of the event, students, staff and supporters signed the beam that will be placed at the apex of the structure—specifically on the north side, at the top of an elevator shaft. Snyder advised those gathered that they can watch the project’s continuing progress online via a webcam installed at the Kelvin Smith Library.