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Fred Maytag Family Foundation to transform Central student center

PELLA — Transforming the building it helped fund nearly 25 years ago, the Fred Maytag Family Foundation has awarded Central College $2.75 million for the renovation of the Maytag Student Center.

It’s among the largest single donations in the college’s history.

The renovation will be extensive, renewing the center into a hub of campus activity for 21st-century Central students. Completed in 1990, the Maytag Center underwent some initial structural changes in 2007 when a main-level stairwell was opened.

The coming changes will be far more dramatic, repurposing areas that became under-utilized in changing times while reconfiguring other areas to make them both more inviting and efficient.

The Maytag Student Center was named for Fred Maytag II, grandson of F.L. Maytag who founded the Maytag Company in Newton in 1889, in recognition of his service to Iowa as an entrepreneur and public servant. He was president of the company from 1940-62 and created the Fred Maytag Family Foundation.

The foundation provided much of the funding for the original building, which was constructed for $2.3 million.

Fritz and Ken Maytag, sons of Fred Maytag II, and directors of the foundation, returned to Central’s campus earlier this year to join in a discussion about the facility.

“We are proud that Central College chose to honor our father and the Maytag family when it constructed its student center nearly 25 years ago,” said Fritz Maytag. “And, we feel an obligation to ensure that the Maytag Student Center continues to serve the Central students of tomorrow as well as it has served the students of the past quarter-century. We were genuinely impressed and energized by our recent visit to Central and the vision presented of what this building could become. We have treasured this ongoing relationship.”

Ken Maytag was equally enthusiastic.

“Like Central College, our family roots run deep in central Iowa” he said. “We share a commitment to quality and to service. We are blessed to have this opportunity to help Central prepare the citizens of tomorrow.”

Central president Mark Putnam said the fact that the foundation chose to fund the entire project speaks to the depth of its commitment to Central students.

“As we look forward to the 25th anniversary of this building, we deeply value the partnership that has existed with the Fred Maytag Family Foundation over these years,” Putnam said. “The foundation’s continued commitment to creating opportunities for students to have a transformative educational experience is inspiring to all of us. We are profoundly appreciative of this very generous gift.”

A facility for the future — Compartmentalized areas on the Maytag Student Center’s main level will be opened to reflect how today’s students socialize and study. It will feature an expanded commons, anchored by a large, stone fireplace. The snack bar in the present facility, Grand Central Station, will be replaced. In place of its walls, lower dividing walls will be installed, making it a larger, more inviting space with a coffee shop ambience.

As more students purchase textbooks online, the bookstore will be converted into a smaller, more retail-oriented facility, and will share a point of purchase area with the coffee shop. In the space presently occupied by the bookstore, the J. Gilbert (Gil) Boat, Margaret Moore and Shirely Weller conference rooms will be moved from the upper floor, giving them more prominence and convenient access for groups and visitors conducting meetings and conferences in the flexible space.

Most Maytag Center traffic enters and exits via a vestibule on the northwest side of the building. But congestion resulted following construction of the adjacent Central Market dining facility in 1997. Consequently, the vestibule will be enlarged and made more welcoming.

In the lower level, a spacious, generously equipped wellness center will be created, providing a convenient student exercise area for students, faculty and staff as an alternative to the facilities in the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex on the other side of the campus. The area will house new cardio and cross training equipment as well as an exercise room for yoga, dance and fitness classes. A wellness suite will include offices for meetings with personal trainers or nutritionists and dieticians.

Offices for various student activities will be relocated to the upper level, along with more collaborative and accessible space for class deans and the student development office staff.

Renovation plans are nearing final form and construction is expected to be completed for the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.

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