Two new residence halls at Bates College will be named for Elizabeth Kalperis Chu ’80 and J. Michael Chu ’80 in recognition of their $10 million commitment to the college, President Clayton Spencer announced today.
“I am deeply grateful to Elizabeth and Michael for their wonderfully generous gift,” said Spencer in her remarks at the dedication of Kalperis Hall and Chu Hall on Friday afternoon.
“Their gift underscores the power of the residential liberal arts model and our conviction that a Bates education, specifically and especially, is rooted in place and in the diversity of human connection,” Spencer added.
“The willingness of the Chus to step forward upon the opening of these beautiful new structures and in advance of our upcoming fundraising campaign also signals to all who are watching that the Bates community is prepared to support ambition and excellence.”
“Bates gave both of us a remarkable education that provided the foundation for our lives and careers.”
The Chus, who met at Bates, emphasized that their gift to the college is a “small way to acknowledge what Bates has given to our family.” Their elder son, Christopher, is a 2012 graduate.
“Bates gave both of us a remarkable education that provided the foundation for our lives and careers as well as lifelong friendships that nurture us in so many ways,” they added.
“Our Bates story is immeasurably enriched by the fact that our elder son, CJ, also had a wonderful experience here. Though our time at Bates and our son’s time were separated by almost 30 years, the DNA and ethos of the college remain very much the same as when we were here.”
Michael Bonney ’80, chair of the Bates Board of Trustees, said that one of the great rewards of his work on behalf of Bates is the chance to celebrate “excellence of our culture and the tremendous generosity of our community. It’s even more special when the generosity is embodied by dear friends.”
He added, “As Michael and Elizabeth’s Bates classmate and their friend, I feel profound personal appreciation for their gift. And from an institutional perspective, I see their gift as another tangible marker of how Bates is establishing itself as a model for the 21st-century liberal arts college.”
Located on Campus Avenue across from historic Chase Hall and the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, Kalperis Hall and Chu Hall — at 65 and 55 Campus Ave., respectively — opened in August as campus housing for 243 students.
Each forming an L shape, the two halls face and complement each other across a new lawn. In addition, Kalperis Hall includes street-level space for the relocated and reimagined Bates College Store and Post & Print office.
The project to build two residences, announced in December 2013, is part of an initiative to improve Bates residential offerings on a broad scale while maintaining campus enrollment at approximately 1,750 students. By embodying the concept of “vertical housing” — the integration of residential life with programs like the College Store — the buildings also establish a new, dynamic area of college life and a more defined and welcoming gateway on the south side of campus.
“Kalperis Hall and Chu Hall have made real what was envisioned during the planning process: spaces that create community,” said Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Josh McIntosh.
“The living spaces offer our students an ‘at-home’ feeling, provide opportunities to live with friends, welcome lots of natural light, and bring together first-year students with upperclass mentors.”
The result is a stream of students coming and going through the area, “a hub of activity, student traffic, and life for the entire campus community,” said Philip Chen, project architect for Ann Beha Architects. “The area is embedded with the Bates ethos of inclusivity, diversity, and community.”
The project’s architectural vision has been realized, said Elizabeth and Michael Chu.
“The interior design is wonderful because of its beautiful sightlines, including exterior views of the campus. The study and group spaces are so well-laid out, promoting and fostering a real sense of community — the root of everything Bates.”
Overall, they said, the architecture “reflects the design aesthetics of the campus as a whole while clearly introducing the world of today into the buildings.”
The Chus said that the new buildings continue what they valued about residential life at the college and its diverse pantheon of buildings old and new, large and small.
“Our own various Bates residences were so different and distinctly memorable in their own right, yet they all shared a common feature. They allowed for great friendships to develop. Whether the spaces were large or small, they all contributed to a social life that is such an integral part of the Bates experience.”
Today, Michael Chu is a Bates trustee emeritus who is the global co-CEO and co-founder of the private equity firm L Catterton. Elizabeth Kalperis Chu, whose career was in the securities industry, serves on a number of community and nonprofit boards.