Dedication of Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center Makes It Official

The outside temperature was an unforgiving 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but inside the new Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center, the mood was clearly celebratory. Nearly 50 guests, including members of Lawrenceville’s Board of Trustees, the School administration, the medical staff, and the architecture and construction management teams, gathered to dedicate the first of two new buildings resulting from The Bicentennial Campaign. Carter House, a fifth Crescent House, is expected to open to female boarders in the fall of 2010.

“We are enormously grateful to the Al-Rashid family for their generosity,” said Head Master Liz Duffy H’43 in her opening remarks. “This building is the product of five years of planning. Yet in the few short weeks since it has been opened, it has been embraced by our students, staff and faculty, making it a living testament to our shared vision to provide top-notch care for our students and the generations that will follow.” She also noted, “This is a healthy building itself, our first LEED-certified building on campus.”

Ms. Duffy thanked the trustees for their support of the project, and she recognized medical director Dr. Robin Karpf P’11, lead architect Barbara Hillier P’11 and her team from RMJM Hillier, Massimino Building Corp., and Bill Ehret ’67 and Kevin Lysick of the School’s Buildings and Grounds Department for their role in realizing the vision of a new health and wellness center. “It gives me special pleasure,” Ms. Duffy added, “that both Curtis McGraw Webster ’75 and Lisa McGraw Webster P’75 are here today,” citing the portrait of Curtis W. McGraw ’15, Mrs. Webster’s father and Curtis’ grandfather, that now greets students in the reception area of the new facility. The Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center replaces the Curtis W. McGraw Infirmary, built in 1976.

Tom Carter ’70 P’01 ’05, vice president of the Board of Trustees and a co-chair of The Bicentennial Campaign, joined Ms. Duffy in thanking the Al-Rashid family for their generosity, expressing appreciation to the McGraw family for their historical role and support and recognizing the Shipley family (Charles Shipley ’35) for funding the planning phase of the project. Tom, with his wife Jeanie P’01 ’05, shared in the funding for the new facility. Other donors to the Center included Scott '65 and Bayne Belair P'08 '09, Verdi Joseph and Patricia DiSesa P'04 '06 '07 '08, John and Christine Edwards P'03 '06, A. Frederick Gerstell '56, and Clark '59 and Andy MacKenzie P'81.

Fahad Al-Rashid ’98, a member of the Steering Committee for The Bicentennial Campaign and a former Lawrenceville trustee, and his brother Ibrahim ’02 were on hand to represent the Al-Rashid family, which also includes sister Moudhy ’01 and brothers Salman ’05 and Mohammad ’06.

When Fahad took the podium on behalf of his siblings, the guests shared in his obvious appreciation of the center that bears his family’s name. “I’m delighted to be here to represent my family and to be joined by my brother Ibrahim,” he said. “During my years on the Campaign Nucleus Fund Committee we addressed the critical issues of School life, … (among them) a new Crescent House and a new infirmary. My siblings and I saw an opportunity … to take a lead role in how Lawrenceville delivers health and wellness care to the School community and will for many years to come.

“My family’s commitment to Lawrenceville is a direct reflection of the commitment we felt from the School and continue to feel today,” Fahad continued. “We are proud to be a part of its promising future.”

Fahad’s praise for Lawrenceville medical director Robin Karpf was returned in an emotional message of gratitude. “Thank you, Fahad, for enabling us to transform the face of health care here at Lawrenceville,” she said. “My staff and I are thrilled. The Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center is a beacon in our mission to help our students reach their full potential. There’s an Arab proverb,” she quoted, “‘He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.’ I think this building is a testament to that. Thank you, thank you very much.”

Fahad and Ibrahim were visibly moved by a commemorative plaque honoring their family’s gift, presented by Ms. Duffy. The plaque, replicas of which will be presented to all five Al-Rashid siblings, includes a photo of the Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center, a copy of the program for the dedication ceremony, and a message of appreciation in Arabic.

Many of the guests responded to Ms. Duffy’s invitation to explore the new facility. In addition to an expansive reception area/waiting room with a view of the Lawrenceville golf course, the 12,300-square-foot center includes a large seminar room and separate inpatient and outpatient wings divided by a V-shaped "rain garden" courtyard. The inpatient wing houses nine semiprivate rooms and a five-bed ward. The outpatient wing has space for walk-in exams, x-rays, laboratory testing, minor medical procedures, counseling and education. Designed from the inside out, the interior spaces are filled with natural daylight through roof openings and extra-large windows.

“The building is designed to meet three essential values,” according to architect Barbara Hillier. “The first is the school’s commitment to the highest quality and sophistication in healthcare and wellness practices that include the need for individual privacy. The second is the respect for the campus fabric, its classical architecture and landscape. And the third is Lawrenceville’s leadership in environmental responsibility and conservation of resources.” J. Robert Hillier ’55 P’11 is vice chairman of RMJM Group and founder of Hillier Architecture.

In the words of Robin Karpf, “The Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center is clearly the next generation of health care at Lawrenceville.” Thank you to the Al-Rashid family and all who assisted in this achievement.

Originally published in 2009.

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