In February 2015, at a board meeting, a gift was announced that would impact students, faculty and staff and the Albion community. The gift provides faculty housing on Superior Street in the form of forgivable loans.
Albion alumni Judy (‘86) and Michael Harrington (‘85), the donors, began the discussion with Institutional Advancement at last year’s Grand Getaway, and now their plan is beginning to take form.
“So the Harringtons said a couple things,” said Bob Anderson, vice president for alumni relations and development. “They wanted to make an impact, but they wanted the impact to be direct to the faculty and staff. An important part of the conversation was to figure out if we just wanted to help faculty or help faculty and staff. And they decided to help faculty and staff because having staff living locally helps too. Now the vision started to build.”
When the Harringtons were visiting campus, they talked to a resident downtown who told them that Albion has not had a new home built in close to 20 years. So even one newly constructed house would be huge.
As the conversation continued, the Harringtons began to see the impact their gift was going to make not only in Albion College but also the community. Their gift would improve students’ experiences and education by bringing their professors closer to campus.
“It will be really easy for students to say ‘Okay, I will pop on over and have this conversation with you on your front porch.’ It will be comfortable,” said Anderson. “We would love for every house to have a front porch just because we want that feel of ‘I’m sitting on my front porch, and a student can come ask a question they didn’t get to ask’.”
The Harrington’s donation will be improving faculty’s lives because they will be closer to their students. Their gift has allowed the college to purchase empty houses and lots on Huron Street and bring them up to safety standards. Then the individual buys the house or lot at the evaluated price, and the college covers about $25,000 for building a new home or renovations. This will also give faculty the opportunity to buy a home worth roughly $60,000 for $35,000.
These new homes will also impact the community. Residents who currently have homes on Huron Street can expect their houses to rise in value because the neighborhood is being updated.
Four homes have been deemed not feasible for living and have been torn down. Two of those four lots have already been claimed. The buyers of the land have been asked to build homes that will fit in with the current style and feel of the Albion community.
Two people have also committed to restoring Albion homes. Institutional advancement is still working with faculty and staff to fill the empty lots and homes.
The Harrington’s gift will continue to impact our community as a whole long after the houses are filled. The donation will play a big role in bringing the college and community together.
“They [the Harringtons] fell in love with this [donation], and there are a lot of donors who will do different things, but there probably is not a donor who would take this neighborhood on their wing and help faculty and staff buy their first house through a forgivable loan program. I think they took that to heart,” said Anderson. “It was something they could do that was unique.”
Photo by Clare Kolenda