University to open downtown community relations facility

Author: Shannon Chapla

The grand opening of Notre Dame Downtown, an initiative that will relocate the Office of Community Relations and several other components of the University of Notre Dame to a newly renovated facility in downtown South Bend, will take place at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 30 (Thursday) at 217 S. Michigan St.p. The ceremony will include statements from Notre Dame’s president, Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., and South Bend Mayor Steven Luecke, as well as tours of the facility. It will be open for public viewing during the afternoon.p. Located across the street from the State Theatre in a section of the old Robertson’s department store building, the 10,000-square-foot venue most recently served as Memorial Hospital’s Center for Integrative Healing.p. “Notre Dame Downtown represents a new and broader level of community involvement by the University,” said Roberto Gutierrez, vice president for public affairs and communication. ‘We have an ideal space in the heart of the business district in which to enhance and develop collaborative programs that will strengthen our ties to the South Bend community."p. The Office of Community Relations, under the direction of Jackie Rucker, serves as the primary administrative link between Notre Dame and the local community. Rucker provides proactive, coordinated activities in support of the University’s strategic plan, serves as a liason between local and regional groups, and coordinates University involvement in the development of neighborhoods that surround the campus.p. Two other University ventures will be part of Notre Dame Downtown.p. The Crossroads Gallery ? to be operated by the Snite Museum of Art, Institute for Latino Studies and Department of Art, Art History, and Design ? will showcase art as a community outreach tool.p. The Urban Studio, established in 1999, is a storefront design studio that allows architecture students to interact with design professionals and community leaders and contribute directly to the urban evolution of the city.p. “Our downtown location gives our students real world experience in architectural and urban design,” said John Stamper, associate chair of the School of Architecture.p. “Working in this venue, students have created design options for South Bend’s proposed new Studebaker Museum, a housing development on the city’s near west side, and the former Target store on E. McKinley Ave. Our hope is that we can help enhance the city.”p. Downtown South Bend Inc., (DTSB), a non-profit organization dedicated to the continued growth and prosperity of South Bend, is co-sponsor of the Urban Studio and also will be housed in the new facility.p. Other programs under consideration for Notre Dame Downtown include community art and computer classes, tax assistance, and sessions to address issues of concern within the African-American community.

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