Gift of $500,000 for The Commons

A $500,000 gift from Cornell parents Peter Paul and Betsy Luce will help with plans to expand and renovate The Commons.

Peter and Betsy Luce, of Englewood, Colo., connected with Cornell when their daughter Lynn was drawn to the college’s One Course At A Time calendar. Luce served Cornell as a trustee when Lynn began at the college in 1989. He became a life trustee in 2003, and received honorary alum status in 1995 with his wife, Betsy.

The gift from the Luces will establish the Bardsley Grand Foyer, given in honor of Lynn Luce Kitt ’91.

The expansion of The Commons, a centerpiece of campus, is part of the Extraordinary Opportunities Campaign. The renovations and updates, projected to cost $13.2 million, will add classroom and meeting space on all three levels of The Commons, as well as a new location for the college’s bookstore.

Peter and Betsy Luce

Peter Luce, a long-time supporter of Cornell’s distinctive One Course at a Time academic calendar, said that the expansion of The Commons was a truly worthy cause, as it will create more classrooms and enhance a space that every student passes through each day.

“My daughter benefited greatly from her Cornell education,” he said, “so it feels right to give back to such a distinctive college, making sure future generations of students benefit, as well.”

Peter Wilch, vice president for alumni and college advancement, praised the Luces’ commitment to the college.

“The Luces’ support has been absolutely vital in giving momentum to the arts through the Luce Gallery and sustaining enrollment growth by creating a new admissions center,” Wilch said, “and now it will help create a more engaging atmosphere for The Commons.”

The Commons, built in 1966, is at the center of campus life at Cornell, both literally and figuratively.

The Commons renovation will increase the building size by 28 percent to accommodate enrollment  growth and modern student life activities. Over four decades, the role of The Commons has grown as student needs have changed. What began as a social center and dining hall is also the home of student activities and organizations, a fitness center, classrooms, the bookstore, the campus post office, and a Starbucks-style coffee lounge.

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