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Chicoine’s Mark at SDSU Continues with Named Building

courtesy of the SDSU Foundation

SDSU President Barry Dunn and his wife, Jane, left, and President Emeritus David Chicoine and his wife, Marcia, at the Nov. 6 ceremony to rename Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall.
SDSU President Barry Dunn and his wife, Jane, left, and President Emeritus David Chicoine and his wife, Marcia, at the Nov. 6 ceremony to rename Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall.

Though his tenure as president concluded in 2016, President Emeritus David Chicoine’s legacy at State is far from over. The Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall will carry his name moving forward, honoring his visionary leadership and dedication to SDSU—in particular, to the architecture department, which very well might not exist today without his tireless advocacy for its creation in 2010.

In a naming ceremony Nov. 6, Chicoine was recognized for the transformative initiatives made possible throughout his nine years of presidency. One of his signature accomplishments was what became the Ness School of Management and Economics, which strived to take programs that existed in three different colleges and combine them into one strong, academic unit. This goal is clearly reflected in the layout of the hall, which has been operational since 2015: the architecture department resides on the third floor, the mathematics and statistics department is housed on the second, and the mechanical engineering and construction and operations management departments occupy the first floor, along with shared laboratory space.

The $17 million, 62,000-square-foot building is just one example of the many construction jobs and facilities upgrades for the Brookings campus that were catalyzed by Chicoine. During his tenure, more than $270 million was committed to infrastructure improvements, resulting in new residential halls, the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and several other notable projects. While many initiatives saw completion from Chicoine’s strategic planning, the architecture program was an innovation that he was particularly passionate about, determined to introduce an untapped field of study that could draw both established and aspiring architects to SDSU.

One such aspiring architect was Spencer Sommers, who paved the way as the first licensed architect to graduate from State’s program. Sommers spoke at the naming ceremony, describing the impact of Chicoine himself and the impact of Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall.

“I just can't say enough good things about the building,” said Sommers. “It allowed students a brand-new environment to study, design, and, just as importantly, build. The shop spaces are second to none and an amenity that can't be overlooked. Because of this building, the department has continued to attract and retain both students and faculty.”

The shop spaces and study environment Sommers mentions play a key role in fostering a unique learning atmosphere for Jackrabbits. The third floor of the building is home to light-filled design studios and a 13,000-square-foot workshop with state-of-the-art equipment and tools. The department has a nontraditional mandate of intentionally keeping its class sizes small, with no more than 220 students accepted into the program at any given time. This allows for greater professor-to-student interaction and ensures each student a great deal of hands-on opportunities to tap into their creative talents in the workshop.

The hall’s multidisciplinary approach reflects Chicoine’s interest to elevate SDSU across all areas, leaving no aspect without improvement.

“The decision to name a building after someone is one of the highest honors a university can bestow upon someone,” said President Barry Dunn. “Tens of thousands of students will walk by the plaque in the entryway to this facility and learn about the strong leadership of the third SDSU alumnus to lead our university.”

While the Chicoine Architecture, Mathematics and Engineering Hall honors the undeniable influence and leadership of the former president, it is especially fitting that the architecture program would be tied to his legacy. While the practice of architecture is about modeling solutions to improve our surroundings and crafting the aspirations we envision, Chicoine himself modeled diligence and daring during his time as president. He consistently taught by doing and led by example, setting tall goals and working relentlessly to pursue them. In the hall that carries his name, generations of Jackrabbits moving forward will not only find opportunities for personal and professional growth, but the opportunity to carry on Chicoine’s talent for building the future.