BU admissions building named in honor of Alan, Sherry Leventhal

Boston University benefactors Alan and Sherry Leventhal spoke at a ceremony Tuesday that recognized them for their dedication to the university and officially named the admissions reception center in their honor. PHOTO BY ADRIAN BAKER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University benefactors Alan and Sherry Leventhal spoke at a ceremony Tuesday that recognized them for their dedication to the university and officially named the admissions reception center in their honor. PHOTO BY ADRIAN BAKER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Boston University held a ceremony Tuesday to recognize two of its major benefactors, dedicating the university admissions reception building in their honor.

The Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center acknowledges the pair’s contributions to the university both through their work in official positions and their philanthropic gifts to BU. The Center will link the admissions building on Bay State Road to an alumni center that will be built in the renovated BU Castle.

“When you think about what drives the university, it’s the students,” Alan Leventhal said to about 30 attendees. “To be associated with something that’s welcoming the new students, the applicants to this university — there couldn’t be anything more special.”

Alan Leventhal joined BU’s Board of Trustees in 1995 and served as its chairman from 2003 to 2008. He received an honorary degree from the university in 2009, the same year he and Sherry Leventhal donated $10 million to BU. Sherry Leventhal currently serves on the dean’s advisory board in the School of Medicine.

At the ceremony, BU President Robert Brown said the Leventhals made a significant donation to the university to encourage others to support the Campaign for Boston University, a fundraising mission with a goal of raising $1 billion in 10 years.

“When Alan and Sherry made their leadership gift, the idea of a formal campaign with a billion-dollar goal was only a gleam in the eye of very, very few people,” Brown said. “Today, as we meet a little over two years into the public phase of the Campaign, with over $720 million raised, you can see the wisdom of their confidence in this institution and their commitment to it.”

Brown unveiled the plaque that would be displayed on the front of the Center commemorating the Leventhals’ history of contribution to the university, and he offered Alan and Sherry Leventhal a mural of the building.

Robert Knox, chairman of the Board of Trustees, acknowledged Alan Leventhal’s role in instituting reforms and new policies to address a governance crisis at BU 10 years ago.

“Alan had the strength of character and the leadership ability to plan and execute a complete overhaul and reform of the outdated or non-existent governance policies of the university,” Knox said. “Under Alan’s astute guidance, the changes made were truly extraordinary. And BU has transformed into an institution that has become a model for best practices in university government.”

At the ceremony, Alan Leventhal expressed his and his wife’s humility and gratitude, saying their belief in the importance of education inspired their commitment to the university.

“We have felt that great universities like BU have a responsibility to not only attract and educate the best students, but it has a responsibility to solve the big problems of the world,” he said. “It’s our great institutions, like Boston University, that will provide the intellectual foundation to understand the problems and to find the solutions.”

Sherry Leventhal said she and her husband were honored to have their names on the building students first see upon visiting campus as a prospective student.

“I can’t be more thrilled, and I can’t think of a better building than the admissions building where all the prospective applicants come in,” she said. “It’s their first touch with the university, and I’m thrilled to have my name on it.”

Kelly Walter, associate vice president and executive director of Admissions, said the ceremony was an extraordinary and long-anticipated event.

“The Leventhals have deep ties to the university,” Walter said. “They’ve always believed in Boston University, and to have their name associated with a building that provides opportunities to prospective students from around the world is the best possible recognition that BU could give to them.”

Alan and Sherry Leventhal aren’t the only members of their family to have deep ties with BU. Alan Leventhal’s father, Norman Leventhal, completed construction of West Campus in 1963 and received an honorary degree in 2000, Knox said at the ceremony. Alan Leventhal’s mother, Muriel Leventhal, graduated from the School of Management in 1940 with a degree in Business Administration.

Renovation on the alumni center in the BU Castle will begin after the university raises $5 million toward the project, a benchmark BU set in June and anticipates to reach by September 2015, said Steve Hall, vice president of Alumni Relations.

Hall said uniting the admissions and alumni centers as the Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center is a fitting way to honor the two philanthropists.

“When you come to BU, it’s a lifetime relationship,” he said.”…Their family has touched the university in so many different ways over so many generations that I don’t think there’s a more fitting building on campus than the one through which every future student will eventually pass.”

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