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Barely a year after the U of C administration announced the closing of International House for financial shortcomings and a deteriorating infrastructure ("Chicago Journal," April/00), I-House and its programs are back on their feet and quickly returning to fully functional status.

According to Henry Pernet, AM'67, PhD'79, a former International House resident who was appointed director of the facility in November, the building has undergone major renovations during the past year, including new carpet, room remodeling, a new laundry facility, and conversion of communal showers into private stalls. The largest renovation was the installation of a $2 million fire alarm system to bring the building up to code.

The need for the fire alarm system led the University to consider permanently closing the facility, a possibility that sparked a storm of protest from International House residents as well as other Chicago students, faculty, and alumni. Then-University President Hugo F. Sonnenschein responded to the outcry by appointing a committee to evaluate the facility and its programs. After the committee found that the building was "particularly well-suited to its mission" and "a significant resource for the University as a whole," Sonnenschein vowed to keep the building open and eventually appointed a full-time director and an interim board of governors to ensure the future of International House on campus.

That future is looking bright. Although I-House revenues dropped substantially this year because installing the fire alarm system meant closing more than 60 percent of the rooms, the renovations are now complete, and Pernet has embarked on a marketing campaign to attract incoming students to fill the building's 508 rooms. Pernet and his staff are also concentrating on programming activities to reclaim I-House's reputation as the center for international events on campus.-C.S.


 JUNE 2001

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