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Campus Life

CGS dedicates Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center

Features classical busts, comfy chairs and wireless access

President Emeritus Aram Chobanian (Hon.’06), Beverly Brown, President Robert Brown, Marilyn Katzenberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and CGS Dean Linda Wells dedicate the new CGS student study center. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

The old study lounge at the College of General Studies was, in the carefully chosen word of faculty member Ross Wolin, dated. Now, according to the assistant professor of rhetoric, the room is superb. “It’s beautiful, it’s functional — it’s what an academic space should be.”

The college began Parents Weekend last Friday by hosting a ribbon-cutting for the brand-new Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center, attended by more than 200 parents, students, alumni, and friends.

While servers passed trays of Hoisin duck and a jazz guitarist plucked away in a corner, President Robert Brown and CGS Dean Linda Wells led the room in a champagne toast, and guests took in the elegant study hall designed by The Stubbins Associates of Cambridge, Mass., and inspired by the Boston Athenaeum, a nearly 200-year-old private research library in downtown Boston. “If you walk into this space any day during the year, when we’re not here partying,” said Brown, addressing the crowd, “you’ll see what it’s really used for, and that’s where the real satisfaction comes from.”

The completely renovated third floor space fulfills Wells’ vision of, as she put it, a “reading room where students could come and read and study and reflect and keep their own counsel — and keep their cell phones off.” The area has classical busts, comfortable reading chairs, large wooden study tables, displays for periodicals, and even an old card catalog. “We’d like them to know how we used to do research in the old days,” she said.

At the same time, the Katzenberg Center reflects the college’s responsibility to prepare students for “the world of the future, which is a world of technology,” said Wells. It is fitted for wireless use, and new computers are in front of a modern work of art, which also helps define the room: a suspended, curving grid of variously colored glass panes, some printed with the names of donors. Adjacent to the reading room are a multimedia conference room, a writing center, and small rooms for students to use for team-oriented study.

Afra Khan (CGS’08) and her classmates use the Katzenberg Center constantly. “It’s relaxing, it’s pretty, it’s quiet,” she said. “It’s always pretty full, but it’s not distracting.”

The renovation was funded by a lead gift from Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation SKG, and his wife, Marilyn, who dedicated the space to Wells. The Katzenbergs attended the ceremony, and Marilyn Katzenberg spoke. Their children, she said, “had the most extraordinary two-year experience here. The program of the College of General Studies really, really gave them a love of education.”

John and Helen Sullivan, whose son, Michael Sullivan (CGS’08), is a freshman, were impressed with the center and with what Marilyn Katzenberg had to say. “For her to speak so highly of the college makes me feel good about sending our son here,” said John Sullivan. “BU is large, but this makes it seem small and manageable.”