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Rector Hall to be Renovated and Reopened by February 2003

April 16, 2002

Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Rebuilding Rector" 848KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Rebuilding Rector" 474KB] "There is no doubt that we will rebuild Rector Hall," DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms announced today, nine days after a fire caused heavy damage to the 85 year old dormitory. The University's Board of Trustees was scheduled to discuss a renovation of Rector that was planned before the April 7 fire. The Board's meets on campus later this week. "So, we'll combine projects," Dr. Bottoms says. "One, what we wanted to do to upgrade the dorm, along with what the insurance company will allow us to do with their monies to build the dorm back the way it was. In other words, we don't want to just build it back the way it was, we want it to be better," according to the President.

Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Ready by Second Term" 154KB] "We hope to have students back in Rector Hall by second term of next year," Bottoms added. "It's unrealistic to think that we could be back in there by next September, because of the other renovation we want to do."

Investigators determined that the fire, which began on the fourth floor of Rector Hall, was started by an electrical appliance. But because of all the damage, the exact appliance will never be known. All students got out of the building safely. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries battling the blaze, which took six hours to bring under control. The displaced students are now settled into the new rooms around campus where they will spend the remainder of the semester.

The fire began just before 7:45 on that Sunday morning. Within an hour students, faculty and staff, and people from the Putnam County community were at the Union Building, dropping off food, clothing and other essentials for the 116 students who had called Rector home, and had to leave everything behind but the clothes on their backs. Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Ilustrative Moment" 653KB] Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "4th Floor Residents" 437KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "4th Floor Residents" 252KB]

That generosity has been spotlighted in a number of media reports. After hearing about the Rector Fire, Indianapolis-based University Loft Company donated $42,000 worth of furniture to DePauw and delivered it to the sororities, fraternities, dormitories and other housing units that the displaced Rector residents have been moved to. A crew from Fox affiliate WXIN came to DePauw and aired a brief report on the furniture company's generosity (see it here: Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "WXIN Report" 1300KB]).

Another report, by CBS affiliate WISH, called the fire "a horrible thing that's brought the community closer together." It included an interview with Beth Stander of the Greencastle Wal-Mart, which donated gift certificates to displaced Rector residents. Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Wal-Mart Help" 915KB] "They were in here frantically buying toiletries, looking for clothes, flip-flops, anything they could get ahold of," Stander told the TV station.

Greencastle optometrist Dr. Daryl Hodges, who opened his office on that Sunday and offered students free eye exams, prescriptions and temporary contacts to students, said Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Daryl Hodges" 808KB] "I was just tickled to death to be here to help 'em out. All of them said, 'thank you, thank you.'"

The caring of DePauw students was also noted in the report. "It's just always nice to help somebody out, 'cause it it was you, you'd want somebody to do the same thing for you," sophomore Adrienne Woods told WISH.

Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Traditions of Helping" 295KB] "One of our students said it perhaps better than I could say it," Dr. Bottoms recalled. "We're a very task-oriented community, and so when something happens they're used to mobilizing, they're used to volunteering, they're used to helping people. We really fell back on those traditions that serve us so well," the President said.

You can read about more examples of the helping hands that came forward after the fire by clicking here. The original fire story from Sunday, April 7, can be seen here. Other stories can be accessed here and here. All contain video, audio, photos and text.

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