Pamperin Hall: Honored alumnus is advocate for access, affordability

As students return for another year, they’ll no doubt notice the newest addition to campus: Keith Pamperin Hall. But they may not know the man the building is named for.

“I am very excited and my family is thrilled,” Keith Pamperin says. He’s the first alumnus to have a residence hall named in his honor at UW-Green Bay.

You could say Keith Pamperin came to UW-Green Bay by accident. He originally went to college in Milwaukee but he was involved in a motor-scooter accident there and spent 8 ½ months in the hospital. That’s when he moved in with his parents and started taking classes at UW-Green Bay.

Pamperin was left with a permanent disability but he was introduced to a whole new environment.

“I fell in love with the University,” Pamperin said. “I found that this campus was so much more accessible and friendly to a person on crutches.”

Pamperin was one of the first students to live on-campus, in the old Bay Apartments. He graduated from UW-Green Bay in 1970 with a degree in Urban Analysis. He spent 38 years as the housing administrator in Green Bay and Brown County, where he promoted affordable housing and good public policy. He also helped developed the unique funding mechanism for on-campus housing at UW-Green Bay.

“The funding mechanism works really well,” said Glenn Gray, the director of the Office of Residence Life at UW-Green Bay.

Gray says the residence halls are built by University Village Housing Inc. The private, non-profit group issues bonds for the buildings. Those bonds in turn, are paid off with student rent.

“It allows us to build out of a private corporation which helps keep the costs down. That savings then is passed on to the student in terms of being able to keep the rents as low as possible for our students,” Gray said.

The new $7.5-million, three-story building will be home to 126 students. Pamperin Hall features 32 apartment-style suites, each with private bedrooms, private bathrooms, living room and kitchen.

“I just think it’s a tremendous facility. It’s truly a state-of-the-art facility,” Gray said. “It’s a real quality building and with the private bedrooms, private bathrooms, the quality of the construction, the quality of the furnishings that have been put into the building, I think the students are just going to love it.”

Pamperin says the new residence hall is perfectly situated on campus.

“I think the location will be an attraction. Obviously it will be the closest residence hall to the main campus buildings. It’s just a short walk from Pamperin Hall to the Union. I’m sure students will enjoy that.”

One aspect of the new facility Pamperin noticed right away is its accessibility.

“Having this building have accessible units on the ground floor is excellent. I think that’s going to be ideal,” Pamperin said.

Gray agrees.

“I think this building is very accessible. Just about every room in the building is accessible for students with disabilities. I think that makes it very special for Keith having a disability of his own,” Gray said.

Pamperin says he hopes his legacy lives on in the students who live in the building that bears his name.

“I’ve been fortunate to have worked 38 years in the planning profession where problem solving was a key part of my career,” Pamperin said. “I hope the students who live in Keith Pamperin Hall also focus their lives on making a difference in the community and solving problems.”

Keith A. Pamperin Hall will be officially dedicated at a ceremony on Wed., Sept. 8, 2010.