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October 08, 2010
Construction of Mercer-Birmingham Hall Underway

The University of Dubuque is currently is making excellent progress on the construction of the newest addition to the campus physical plant, Mercer-Birmingham Hall. This new construction is made possible through the generous gift of $1.5 million from Joe ('68) and Linda Chlapaty and memorializes acclaimed University of Dubuque coaches Kenneth 'Moco' Mercer and Don Birmingham.

Moco Mercer's record as coach at the University of Dubuque will never be equaled. He came to the University in 1939 and soon began winning one conference championship after another. He established dominating teams in football, basketball, wrestling, tennis, cross country, and track, leading every sport except cross country to at least one undefeated season. In 30 years of coaching he won 16 conference titles. During the 1940-41 season he won league championships in football, basketball, and track - a clean sweep of all the major titles in one season. For 20 years (1939-59) he served as director of athletics at UD. In 1960 he was voted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Football Hall of Fame and in 1964 became the 50th member of the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

Don Birmingham made an immediate impression when he came to UD in 1977. While his first football team managed a 4-6 mark, it was the most wins by a Spartan squad in the '70s. However, the groundwork was being laid for the future success of the University of Dubuque football program. Coach Birmingham led the Spartan program for eight years and compiled an overall record of 42-24-1; his IIAC mark was 31-18. Most notably, in 1978 he led UD to its first Iowa Conference Championship in 39 years. He proceeded to earn three straight Iowa Conference Championships (1978, 1979, and 1980) and two NCAA playoff appearances (1979, 1980). He is recognized as a great motivator and had the ability to bring his teams together to achieve goals - all the while building school unity and spirit.

In keeping with the aesthetic character of the Chlapaty Recreation and Wellness Center and the neighboring Facilities Building, 12,000 square foot Mercer-Birmingham Hall will provide needed athletic and administrative offices, classrooms as well as a new "home" for the University's U.S. Army ROTC Detachment. The two-story building will feature divisible classrooms on the lower level to accommodate the instruction of groups from 24 to 120. The main level accommodates 20 offices for coaches, assistants and ROTC officers and non-commissioned officers (NCO).

Exterior detailing is designed to blend with the neighboring campus community. A special feature of the exterior setting is an event plaza to accommodate a large event tent structure for special occasions on campus. Inside the building, a large entry and foyer is designed to provide secure and support space for activities on the event plaza.

The building is located across McCormick Street Extension from the Chlapaty Recreation and Wellness Center. The project is the work of Straka Johnson Architects P.C. and Conlon Construction Company.