Knapp Center

The Knapp Media and Technology Center

Computer lab with wooden cublicles and desktop computersComputer stations in the Knapp Media and Technology Center
In the late 1990s, Betsy Knapp and her husband Bud began discussions with Wellesley College about a substantial gift. Their $2 million donation enabled the renovation and redesign of 16,000 square feet on the ground floor of Clapp Library. The remodeling turned a former reserve desk, reserve stacks, reading areas, and language lab into a multipurpose media facility designed to support electronic learning through the campus.
 
The Knapp Media and Technology Center opened on September 17, 1997. It featured unusually appealing workstations with custom millwork. Twenty-five of the workstations were designed for two students to have room to create and collaborate. Seventeen other stations were outfitted as viewing areas. Most stations featured high-end Mac and Windows computers, large displays, and equipment to digitize audio and video sources. Two project rooms were set aside for high-end video editing. For the first ten years of the Knapp Center, there were also four project rooms where groups of three to seven students could work together.

The Knapp Center Today


Edited transcription of Betsy Knapp’s remarks at the opening of the Knapp Media and Technology Center, September 17, 1997

There were no computers here when I was here. None. I had to go down the river to MIT after graduating to learn all this stuff that many people found quite mysterious. I've been really involved in computers and communications ever since I left Wellesley and this is a dream come true for me and, I think, for the entire Wellesley community. 
 
After graduating from Wellesley and then getting involved in more visual media and computational pursuits, I wondered when would be the moment that Wellesley would be ready for video. I mean, when I was here, TV was the worst thing you could do. That was the biggest time waster. Now maybe it really often was a time waster, but there's something in all of these technologies — audio technology, video technology, graphics, text — all the things that we can do today that are extraordinarily powerful. 
This Center is not about word processing. It's not about number crunching. It's not about e-mail. It's about the ability to explore, to discover, to collaborate, using all kinds of different media and all kinds of different modes of expression.
And that's what drove me to want to give a gift to Wellesley, and I was so excited when Wellesley wanted this gift. People often ask me what was my motive? I deeply believe in the power of being able to learn and being able to teach using all of what we call new media. Sometimes there are questions about what is new media. Well, it's all these forms of expression I just mentioned: video, audio, graphics, animation, and more. I feel very strongly that for Wellesley, being such an excellent institution and training women who will make a difference, that part of the new definition of being an educated person is to be educated in technology — at least to some level. And Wellesley will decide what level. And I know that there are lots of talented people here who wrestle with that question every day and I'm sure they'll get it right. 
 
This Center is not about word processing. It's not about number crunching. It's not about e-mail. It's about the ability to explore, to discover, to collaborate, using all kinds of different media and all kinds of different modes of expression. I'm gratified to hear from others that we all seem to share a vision of what this means. I'm also very happy for Wellesley, because when I put my business hat on, I want Wellesley to stay as competitive as she can be in everything that she does. And I think that this Center puts her on the top of the list -- certainly for women's colleges -- and keeps her competitive with all the finest liberal arts colleges in the country and perhaps the world.
I've been really involved in computers and communications ever since I left Wellesley and this is a dream come true for me and, I think, for the entire Wellesley community.
In closing, I want to say that I am very pleased with the way this project went, and with all of the wonderful collaborations that I was able to have, all the new friends I made in the process, all the people who really supported this. Wellesley has done a fabulous job of bringing this project in on time, in thirteen months, and on budget. Thank you.