CSB rolls out welcome mat at new campus landmark

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August 26, 2007

The new Gorecki Dining and Conference Center heralds a new era at the College of Saint Benedict. Its stately, red brick façade and warm, inviting interior establish a strong sense of place that echoes the college’s capital campaign, “Our Place in the World.”

The $12 million campus landmark projects the optimism and commitment to community of its namesakes, Ben and Dorothy Gorecki of Milaca, Minn., whose generous gift of $3.5 million for the project was the largest single gift in the college’s history. That gift is the latest measure of the couple’s generosity. In 2002, they contributed a $2.2 million leadership gift to expand and renovate the Benedicta Arts Center of the College of Saint Benedict. The BAC’s Gorecki Family Theater is also named after them.

“It would not surprise me if this public eating space and the role that dining together plays in sustaining community were among the most important factors that motivated Ben and Dorothy to commit $3.5 million to the project,” CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger said. “They remember how important it is to have a convenient place to meet and eat and relax. They are remarkable people and have worked hard and achieved success. They are committed to sharing their good fortune to help others.”

Already, the new facility has created a buzz among the central Minnesota business community, as area business leaders recently attended an open house gala to showcase the conference facilities and dining excellence.

CSB students and staff are abuzz as well. During summer tours and a preview of menu offerings, reactions zeroed in on how the spacious dining room and warm earth tones create a welcoming, social ambiance. Varied lighting, ceiling height and seating options add visual interest, while large windows that open to an expansive view of the campus provide a unifying effect.

Come for the hospitality but stay for the food. The dining area, which seats 400, features seven separate food stations offering a global menu to suit both contemporary and conventional tastes. A Mongolian grill commands center stage; the pasta and pizza area features a gas-fired pizza oven; other food stations include a deli area; a comfort food station (featuring familiar home-style cooking); a grill station for ethnic food, hamburgers and other sandwiches; a salad bar; and a dessert bar.

  “Smart” technology is embedded throughout. Wireless Internet connections will be available in the downstairs lobby; on the second floor, the banquet hall (which can be divided into three smaller rooms for conferences and other events) is equipped for high-speed Internet and other technology. Also, a direct connection to Clemens Library provides students a convenient short walk from study time to mealtime.

“This is a vibrant and fantastic new building that will serve our students and the community for years to come,” Baenninger said.

Photographs by Greg Becker