Athens State Breaks Ground on Nazaretian Alumni House & Welcome Center

Nazaretian Alumni House & Welcome Center Groundbreaking Ceremony

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 20, 2024 to celebrate the beginning of construction on the campus’ new Nazaretian Alumni House & Welcome Center. The Center, complete with historical artifacts, conference areas, and administrative offices, will house the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and serve as a welcome center for alumni and campus visitors.

The Alumni House will be named after Dr. Angeline (Angie) Nazaretian, a beloved individual who spent 42 years in service to the Athens State campus, first as chair of the Physical Education Department beginning in 1958, and later as Director of Alumni Affairs, retiring in 2000. She was a prominent leader in the community and spent numerous hours teaching swim lessons, working with the Special Olympics, and serving on leadership boards. She received many awards and recognitions throughout her career for her service to local and state initiatives. When she wasn’t working, Dr. Nazaretian spent her time ensuring that newcomers felt right at home through her memorable flower bouquets and handwritten notes.

Visitors recall Dr. Nazaretian on the porch of her house, on the southwest corner of campus, waving at passersby and inviting them to come sit a spell. The original white Victorian cottage was built for Fortunatus S. Wood around 1902. Later in the 1920s, it was used by Henri Fusch Sr. as a school for boys known as Athens Academy. The long room in the back of the home was used as classroom space, and Mr. Fusch lived in the front. Years passed and the home exchanged hands, eventually sold to Dr. Nazaretian by the Hightower family in December 1973. Athens State University took ownership of the home in June 2014 when Dr. Nazaretian entered a full-time care facility. She passed away on March 17, 2019.

“We are going to build this welcome center to help carry on the work that Dr. Nazaretian did,” said Dr. Catherine Wehlburg, President of Athens State University. “This facility will support our students and serve as a space to welcome our alumni back to campus where they know that they are part of our past, certainly, but they are also very much a part of our future.”

“Miss ‘N’ made an impact for so many students at this institution,” said Betty Ruth Oliver, Athens State Alumni Association Board Member. “We would have students who wouldn’t have money for food, students who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from, but Miss ‘N’ was always able to find that student and help them. Through all of her years here, she was always here for our students and we were thankful for what she was doing.”

The decision was made to raze the existing Nazaretian House and move forward with constructing a new facility due to the similarity in costs between renovating the original facility and building a new one. The new Alumni House will be a replica of the former Nazaretian House and will cost $1,150,000 to complete. Construction will begin immediately and is expected to be completed in June 2025.

“We’re excited about this project,” said State Representative Danny Crawford. “Dr. ‘N’ was an icon of Athens College and Athens State. This institution is so important to our community, sort of the crown jewel of our community, and projects like this will keep that going.”

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