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Travis Roy Campus Center Officially Opens

Travis Roy Campus Center Officially Opens

March 2023 is a historic month for Tabor Academy thanks to the opening of the Travis Roy Campus Center. The vision for this building began decades ago, with countless articles in The Log dating back as early as the 80s, stating that the school needed a place for students to gather. Leadership agreed; master plans from the time of Headmasters Walter Lillard and James Wickenden all addressed the potential for creating such a space, particularly as enrollment grew from 137 in 1926 to over 500 in 1980. While smaller lounges, like the Beebe were developed, the timing never worked to fund and construct a more formal student-centered campus space. 

Until now. The vision has finally come to life, and a ribbon cutting ceremony took place earlier this morning, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. More than 800 students, faculty and staff, alumni, parents, past parents, and friends of Tabor gathered outside to celebrate the opening of this new 20,000-square-foot space and celebrate the life and legacy of its namesake, former trustee Travis Roy ’95. Speakers included Head of School Tony Jaccaci and Maija Scarpaci ’95, classmate and close friend of Travis Roy. On display next to the podium was the 2023 Time Capsule, to be buried later in the day under the 2023 Stone on the Benenson Terrace and opened in 2076, Tabor's 200th anniversary year. 

“This ribbon cutting has been years in the making and as we approach use of this new facility, I am deeply grateful for all those within the Tabor community who conceived of this project, donated to the building, and finally planned and prepared for its full use,” says Jaccaci. “My predecessor, Julie Salit, said that this building would be the school’s family room, and I can’t wait for us to get in there and start enjoying its many uses. It’s going to transform the student experience and that is the best way to develop our campus.”  

During her speech, Scarpaci spoke of Roy’s love of Tabor, her hopes for students, and Tabor’s impact on her life and on Roy’s. “Tabor was two years of school for [Travis], but it was a love that lasted his whole life because Tabor’s doors never closed. Not to him, nor to me. And I promise you that throughout your lives, Tabor’s doors will remain open to you. You just have to keep walking in, and we sincerely hope you do. Please keep coming back, giving back, like Travis did.”

After the speeches, Brenda and Lee Roy were joined by Trustee and Donor Stephen Sprague ’68, and Tabor’s current student Co-Heads, Liam Houck ’23 and Aliyah Jordan ’23, to officially cut the ribbon and open the doors to the Travis Roy Campus Center. Then, students were able to enter and explore the new space for the first time. 

The Heart of Tabor

Situated in the center of campus, the Travis Roy Campus Center (TRCC) is considered by many to be the heart of the Tabor campus. It serves as a link between the dorms, academic buildings, arts and athletic facilities, the waterfront, and everything in between, providing the much-needed centralized social spot for students. 

Much thought went into the design of the space, according to Will Saltonstall ’82, the principal architect at Saltonstall Architects. “A lot of discussion around campus these days is focused on community life,” says Saltonstall. 

The TRCC is not only a place for students to gather, but also a space for productive and collaborative work. “The Campus Center has been designed to serve the entire Tabor community ... all Seawolves,” says Regina Shakin, Board Chair. “I'm beyond proud to be involved in this project because it will make a tremendous difference in the day-to-day experiences of our students, alums, faculty and staff, and parents.”

With a flexible layout, the first floor offers ample comfortable and functional seating, a lovely fireplace, the Martignetti Student Union and Café, meeting rooms for student organizations and affinity groups, the Bost Office of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, and the home of the Student Life Offices. The Union can be used for dances, dinners, and celebrations of all kinds, as the Café is outfitted with a full commercial kitchen. The second floor takes on a more academic bend, housing the library, the Sweeney ASSIST Center (academic support center), study rooms, and the Tabor Archives. There’s also the large Rice Family Conference Room, which can be used by both school leadership as well as classes and student groups. 

While Tabor has always had a spot for students to hang out, such as “the store” and the Beebe, which eventually merged into an upgraded Beebe Lounge that acted as a smaller student gathering space. Despite the Beebe serving as a beloved hang-out, it was smaller in size and didn’t really meet the standard of a true student union. Fans of the Beebe can take a deep breath; the beloved haunt will remain operational in its current spot in the Fish Athletic Center. 

You can read more about the design and construction of the TRCC online.

Financing a Dream

The Campus Center is part of a long-term execution on a long-term vision for advancing Tabor that began with fundraising around two main initiatives: financial aid and enhanced operating expense support. According to former Board Chair, now Trustee Emeritus, Carmine Martignetti ’71, “We aimed to increase annual fund support for the operating budget and to double our financial aid, which we did to attract and support the best and the brightest kids.” 

In addition to that, Tabor undertook fundraising towards capital expenditures including deferred maintenance and new expenditures. “We were able to act upon deferred maintenance immediately, and then focus on the building of new buildings, all in support of the mission and program. Everything we were trying to do was student centric, looking at how could we improve the program first, and in so doing have us more competitive versus peer schools in New England boarding school environment,” adds Martignetti.

After Tabor built two new dormitories in 2015 and 2019 and completed several renovations and campus enhancements, the leadership then turned its attention to the Campus Center. “We felt that this was a really central part of the student experience on campus, to be able to convene in a number of ways together.” Martignetti notes that at the time, other schools had this type of facility, but Tabor fell short. “Families would visit Tabor and tell our admissions office that we don't have a campus center, so that was part of the call for action. But, more importantly we recognized the opportunity for bringing students and program together … It's more than a social gathering place, which we think is critical in and of itself, but it’s also a part of a strategic vision for Tabor.”  

Stephen Sanford, Associate Head of School for Finance & Operations/Chief Financial Officer, was a lead project manager for the Campus Center endeavor. He worked closely with all of those involved to bring this vision to life. “Working on this project was an incredible experience,” Sanford says. “I’m grateful to have had such strong partners, both on the school side of the operations, as well as our external vendors. Projects like this one aren’t possible without support.” He acknowledges and thanks several of his key partners on the Campus Center, including, “Webster Bank for helping to finance the project, Saltonstall Architects for designing and assisting with project management, and the Delphi team for their excellent work as general contractor during a very challenging time with COVID and supply chain issues.” 

Financing a project like this takes the entire community, and several key donors stepped up to lead the charge, Martignetti among them. “This was to be one of the most financially significant projects at Tabor, and in order for me to articulate the need for support, I knew it was critical that I showed my own investment in the building.” And he did; Martignetti was one of the first and most substantial donors to the project. He notes that many other members of the board of trustees stepped up with him to support the Campus Center. The three key trustee donors were Martignetti, Shakin, and Steve Sprague ’68, but he acknowledges that numerous other trustees and donors dug deep to help bring this project to life, including Trustees Clem Benenson '00 and G. Eric Davis '89. 

Martignetti says he truly hopes that the building fulfills the vision the board had when they first began talking about the space, functioning as “a place for students and faculty to gather and celebrate Tabor.”

The Naming of the Travis Roy Campus Center

As alumni gathered in Wickenden Chapel on June 10, 2022 for the Reunion Convocation, they walked into a room that prominently featured four large images of Travis Roy ’95 hanging on either side of the main seating area. It was during this Convocation that the announcement was made; the new Campus Center would be named for Travis Roy, a beloved member of the Tabor community, an alumnus and trustee who left us in October 2020. 

“The Travis Roy Campus Center is named after an outstanding alum and trustee who exemplified thoughtfulness, inclusion, and respect for the entire Tabor community,” shares Shakin. “Travis loved ceramics, his friends, the waterfront, and ice hockey. He was someone who engaged with everyone on campus no matter what their passion was at school.”

“Travis supported Tabor with his time, investment, and thoughtfulness, and he championed the Campus Center,” adds Trustee Steve Sprague ’68, as he fondly remembers his late colleague and friend. “This project is something Travis felt strongly would enhance the student experience, and I'm really sorry that he didn't stay with us long enough to see it completed.” 

When Shakin spoke at a reception held the night before the opening, she remarked that Roy was indeed present for the opening; “I can feel him with us tonight.”

Learn more about the Travis Roy Campus Center online.