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Sage Hall, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s newest academic building in 40 years, is a story of collaboration.

From the funding model, to the planning of each student study place and classroom, Sage Hall was a collaborative effort that included many thoughts, ideas and people.

Friday morning, Sept. 23, a dedication ceremony took place just outside the four-story, 191,000-square-foot building that now lines High Ave. Chancellor Richard H. Wells, state legislators, former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, other dignitaries, faculty, staff and students were present to show their allegiance and support.

“Today, we dedicate a building,” said Wells during his remarks. “But, more importantly, we affirm this remarkable story of collaboration we have, together, written.”

The story of Sage Hall begins with the tale of the development and launch of a capital campaign more in which than $5 million in private funds were raised in support of the academic center. The bricks and mortar, hard work and planning it took to construct the building – nearly two years in the making – continue Sage Hall’s dynamic story.

One student, Kayde Kempen, a senior studying journalism who this semester has many of her classes in Sage Hall, already has a connection to the building. While she spends her time learning in the building’s classrooms and lecture halls, she can’t help but think about her own family’s connection to the building. Her uncle worked on it as a construction worker throughout the duration of the build.

“It was interesting to listen to him talk about it all last year and now get to see what it looks like this year,” said Kempen, who is impressed by the technology updates the building has over the old classrooms on campus she was used to.

Family ties to the building do not end there for Kempen. Her sister also works in the geography department, which is now housed in Sage Hall with many other College of Letters and Science departments. The College of Business also now calls Sage Hall home.

“This facility will allow the College of Letters and Science to flourish in its work to optimize students’ learning experiences as we provide a strong liberal arts education, maintain a supportive, collegial environment for faculty and staff, and maintain and enhance our collaborations and community engagement,” said College of Letters and Science Dean John Koker.

Kempen’s brother will also make his way to UW Oshkosh this spring. As a student, Kempen said she does believe new developments like Sage Hall and the in-the-works Horizon Village suite-style residence hall are attractive to students in selecting a college.

UW Oshkosh Foundation President Arthur H. Rathjen described Sage Hall and its many visionaries and supporters as a project and partnership inspired by the clear challenge of diving into, swimming against and refusuing to succumb to the currents of an incredibly difficult economic era.

“But in midst of this economic chaos, our university made an investment in the collective future of who we wanted to be in the years ahead as well as making a powerful statement to defy and fight through these current times in which we live,” Rathjen said. “We wanted to fight the recession rather than be defined by it — and what we could accomplish.  Collectively, the University and the Foundation resisted common fears of failure and joined the State of Wisconsin to build a new academic building.”

State Senator Jessica King, a self-proclaimed proud UW Oshkosh alum, talked about her relationship to the University as former student body present. She’s proud of UW Oshkosh and is inspired by what Sage Hall means for campus and students.

“This campus continues to grow…to meet the needs of a 21st century economy,” King said. “”I’m owning this moment as a UWO Titan.”

State Representative Gordon Hintz, an Oshkosh native and former UW Oshkosh instructor called Sage Hall “a public investment” and was also filled with pride, he said.

Like King and Hintz, faculty and staff have long known of the need for a new academic building like Sage Hall.

“Sage Hall has provided us with the missing link to greatness,” said College of Business Dean William Tallon during the Friday dedication. “We now have a physical learning environment that creates a synergy where the learning ‘whole’ becomes greater than the sum of the parts.  We will teach better, research more profoundly, and learn more effectively as we prepare the next generation of business leaders. We will reach new heights in all of our endeavors and our impact will be significant.”

Sage Hall, the most environmentally friendly and efficient building of its kind in the state, brings more than just classrooms to students at UW Oshkosh. It also brings a new way of thinking and learning through its sustainability features. Designed for a gold LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the building supports the University’s mission to be sustainable through features that offer utilization of natural light, solar panels and a green roof. The sustainable features are expected to save $182,000 annually.

Other stand-out building features include an oversized Chancellor’s medallion embedded into the main entrance floor, an Einstein Bros. Bagel shop, an outdoor courtyard with a Percent for Art metal sculpture, the largest lecture hall on campus and countless study spaces for students.

“(Sage Hall) dramatically supports the learning mission of the College and University and takes the learning process to a whole new level,” Tallon said.

Following the formal dedication Friday morning, dozens took tours of Sage Hall, including Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. About the building he said: “This is a statement of how important education is to all of us.”

Read more UW Oshkosh Today reports over the Sage Hall project’s history: