UW-Whitewater breaks ground on Mary Poppe Chrisman Success Center

June 10, 2016

Chrisman Success Center construction and renderings

Construction is expected to be complete in fall 2017 on this 18,390 square-foot three-story addition to Laurentide Hall, which will house Campus Tutorial Services.

An addition to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus has been set in motion, thanks to a generous donation from an alumnus, Byron R. "Chris" Chrisman, in honor of his late wife, Mary Poppe Chrisman.

Chris, who received a B.S. in business in 1959, was inspired to make the gift in memory of Mary, who graduated in 1957 with a B.S. in mathematics. She excelled on campus and went on to teach math at the high school level before joining the National Bureau of Standards and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a computer programmer.

"My primary motivation for wanting the building named after Mary was that she loved teaching," Chris said. "And she very much appreciated her experience at Wisconsin State College-Whitewater, as it was called at the time."

The Mary Poppe Chrisman Success Center will house the UW-Whitewater Academic Support Center, serving thousands of students with tutorial and supplemental instruction and offering employment opportunities to hundreds of qualified learning assistants, or tutors.

The 18,390 square-foot three-story addition, which broke ground in May 2016 and is expected to open in fall 2017, will connect to Laurentide Hall, offering easy access to mathematics and English faculty and staff. The highly functional and easily accessible center will provide the space, technology and programs to meet the campus's growing demand for in-depth tutorial support.

"Generous gifts such as this one allow us to reach beyond our current capacity to help students thrive academically," said Chancellor Beverly Kopper. "Our vision is that the Mary Poppe Chrisman Success Center will enhance the exceptional learning environment students already experience and the support them in their success on campus and beyond."

UW-Whitewater has provided free peer-learning opportunities to its students since the mid-1960s. The Academic Support Center serves 43 percent of the current undergraduate population of 12,351 full-time students, three times as many as were served just five years ago, and provides nearly 150,000 hours of tutoring every year. Math, accounting, writing and the sciences are the subjects where the demand for tutoring is the greatest. To meet that demand, the university currently employs, trains and supervises more than 230 student learning assistants.

Chris agrees that both he and his late wife would have benefitted from such a center when they were on campus.

"Mary almost certainly would have been employed there as a tutor," Chris said. "She always supported our donations to the University of Colorado, where I received my law degree, so I'm pleased to see her name on a building that will support and expand the learning experiences of so many students as they strive to attain a quality college education."


Jeff Angileri

Sara Kuhl