Texas Tech Alumni Association Cuts Ribbon on Expanded Merket Alumni Center

A two-and-half-year fund raising and construction project doubling the meeting space in Merket Alumni Center will culminate with ribbon cutting.

Written by Renée Underwood

The expansion will include three additional banquet rooms, a Grand Ballroom, serving kitchen with storage, a circulation, staging and planning office, a bride’s room and new restrooms.

The Texas Tech Alumni Association launched a major capital campaign Oct. 10 to double the size of the Merket Alumni Center.

John Scovell, member of the Board of Regents and the National Board of Directors of Texas Tech Alumni Association (TTAA), announced the "Building on Tradition" campaign to a capacity crowd gathered to honor Peggy and Bill Dean during the 2008 Homecoming Dinner: "A Matador Evening." The addition will include a Grand Reception Hall which will be named in honor of the Deans.

Bill Dean, a professor, student organization sponsor and long-time executive director of the TTAA, and his wife Peggy, a recognized educator and community volunteer, have given tireless hours to build lasting relationships with students, faculty, administrators, legislators, donors and friends of the university. The Deans, who hold five degrees from Texas Tech between them, were honored with the Lauro F. Cavazos Award at the homecoming event for their lifetime of service to the university.

The vision for the capital expansion project and the decision to name it in honor of the Deans came from TTAA President Rex Isom, a 1979 graduate. Isom, his wife, Nancy ('80), sons Clayton and Travis, Isom's brother Ken and his son, Isaac; and Isom’s nephew Brent, and the Ralston family of Wichita Falls, which includes Nancy’s sister and brother-in-law, Jeannie (‘77) and Ben Ralston, (‛76, ‛81), and their son Greg, jump started the project with a generous lead gift last spring.

Shortly thereafter, national board members of the Alumni Association began work on a plan with Lubbock architect Joe McKay.

Scheduled to begin construction in early 2009, the project will nearly double the present Merket Alumni Center by adding 10,694 square feet. A new, second entrance into Merket Alumni Center will open into the grand reception hall, which includes a portrait of the Deans painted by Paul Milosevich and donor recognition pieces throughout the space. A fireplace and bar will be prominent features in the hall.

Three additional banquet/meeting rooms will be constructed which, in conjunction with existing rooms, will double the banquet space and create a Grand Ballroom which will seat up to 600. To serve the growing needs of the facility, the expansion will include a new serving kitchen with storage, a new circulation, staging and planning office, a bride’s room and new restrooms.

The existing kitchen will be remodeled into an office suite for the association’s marketing department.

A second courtyard will be built, featuring a large replica of the official Texas Tech ring as a photo opportunity for Red Raiders during ring ceremonies and on graduation day.

First built in 1995 as an addition to the original President’s Home, Merket Alumni Center now hosts more than 450 events annually and is in high demand for weddings and receptions year round.

“As our student population and alumni base grow and Texas Tech eagerly anticipates the addition of a new chapel near the corner of 19th and University, even more opportunities will be created for the area’s premier gathering space,” said Scovell in announcing the project. He urged all alumni and friends of Texas Tech to become involved in contributing to the project.

High profile naming opportunities are available for the ballroom, large meeting rooms, courtyards and other gathering spaces, as well as brick pavers, bronze markers, marble pavers and granite benches for varying giving levels.

Find out more about the Peggy & Bill Dean Expansion of Merket Alumni Center project. Contact Jim Douglass at (806) 742-3641 or Renée Underwood at (806) 928-0463.