By Erik S. Hanley

MEQUON - Concordia University Wisconsin's new academic building at the Mequon campus will be called the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center.

The Robert W. Plaster Foundation donated a "naming gift" to the college, according to Concordia's website. The gift was to support Concordia's vision of promoting "free market principles across the disciplines of healthcare, education, science, technology, and the arts."


The new building, announced in October, will house Concordia's Batterman School of Business with lecture halls and classrooms. The 52-foot high, four-story, 85,000-square-foot building will feature glass architecture overlooking Lake Michigan. It will also be connected to the existing Luther building.

The Robert W. Plaster Foundation will offer opportunities for speaker series' and conferences in the center. Additionally, the center will "develop free-market-based healthcare solutions through our functioning clinic and healthcare startup incubator."

"We are so pleased to be involved in this project,” said Dolly Clement, the daughter of Plaster and executive director of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation. “My father grew up in poverty and wanted a college education because he knew it would give him a better start toward improving his life. After only three semesters of junior college, he had to quit and go to work full-time in order to make ends meet.”

Clement said her father started Empire Gas Corporation in 1963, selling it in 1996.

"Once dad had some success in business, he wanted to help students like himself, who wanted an education but could not afford it," Clement said. "That is why, in 1983, he founded the Robert W. Plaster Foundation to fund capital projects for colleges and universities to help students get an education. We are so proud to have dad’s name on the building that will house Concordia’s Batterman School of Business.”

The mission of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation is to "promote expanded educational opportunities, pride in America, and belief in the free enterprise system, for the benefit of America’s youth through named capital projects," according to its website.

When the building was approved by Mequon's plan commission, Assistant Director of Community Development Jac Zader said the center was being built to consolidate a few uses already on campus into one building.

Plans allowed 65 parking stalls being added to the campus along with more options for additional parking down the line, if necessary.