West Point unveils new Malek Visitors Center

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

November 2nd, 2017 | News, News and Features
 Attendees of the Oct. 27 ribbon cutting ceremony for the Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center enter the visitors center for a self-directed tour of the facility. The visitors center is slated to open in December.
 Ribbon cutting for the Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center Oct. 27 included (L-R) Lt. Col. Chevelle Thomas, director of the U.S. Military Academy Public Affairs Office; Todd Browne, president and CEO of the Association of Graduates; Marlene and Frederic Malek; former U.S. Military Academy superintendent, retired Lt. Gen. David Huntoon; and current U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Rober L. Caslen Jr.

West Point dedicated the new Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center Oct. 27 with a ribbon cutting ceremony, remarks by those involved in the renovations and a first peek inside the state-of-the-art facility slated to open in December.

The vision and process for the Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center began with former Superintendent, retired Lt. Gen. David Huntoon in 2010, and continued under the current Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr.

“My predecessor, Huntoon, was instrumental in expanding the scope and vision of this project and really helped set the process in motion. And Dave, I apologize—I’m sure you’re getting tired of starting projects and watching me carry them over the goal line,” Caslen joked. “Over the years, we’ve been privileged to share the West Point story with millions of visitors from around the world who come here to experience the rich history, tradition and beauty that is West Point, as well as our alumni and the many prospective applicants and their families who visit on a daily basis.

“The visitors center has been an important part of telling that story, serving as a gateway to West Point; that first stop for our visitors that set the stage for their visit,” Caslen added. “But, in an age of high-tech, it was woefully outdated and in much need of a reboot. And we are honored to name this facility for one of our distinguished graduates who has not only been a vital partner in helping to tell our story, but he is a chapter of that story in his own right—Mr. Fred Malek.”

The new and improved visitors center is now a state-of-the-art facility, boasting high-tech interactive exhibits, a presentation theater, new gift shop and visitor control center. The visitors center boasts a glass entrance capturing the beauty and majesty of the local terrain and the Hudson River.

“The spectacular facility you see behind me is the product of many people’s passion, dedication and support,” Todd Browne, president and CEO of the Association of Graduates, said. “We must take a moment to recognize the fine leadership of two superintendents who were instrumental in ensuring this project was an academy priority: retired Lt. Gen. David Huntoon and Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. Because of their vision, many graduates and friends of West Point stepped forward to support the project.”

Malek offered a few remarks directed at Huntoon and Caslen.

“You have to understand, general, what a privilege it is that someone who comes from modest works is molded by this institution,” Malek said. “It developed into something of worth hopefully, by the leadership and characteristics of this institution. By the lessons of integrity, of honor, of discipline and persistence that are here. What a privilege it is to gain that and to have the opportunity to apply that across a career and then have the privilege to come back and have the opportunity to do something for my alma mater that is so appreciated and is pretty neat. The name is pretty cool.”

The project also received donations from eight alumni classes as part of their reunion campaigns and are reflected in the various areas of the Visitors Center.

The plaza was named for the USMA Class of 1972, the theater after USMA Class of 1973, the courtyard after the USMA Class of 1978, the class crest on the large outside arch after the USMA Class of 1984, the legacy of leaders and leadership excellence exhibits, including the class crests on the small outside arch, after the USMA classes of 1988, 1990 and 2004.

Other donors include the estate of Margaret Ann Zipp, of her husband Charles W. Zipp, USMA Class of 1953 and the Boeing Company, which includes an exhibit in his memory.

The ribbon was cut by Lt. Col. Chevelle Thomas, director of the U.S. Military Academy Public Affairs Office; Browne, Marlene and Frederic Malek, U.S. Military Academy Class of 1959; Huntoon and Caslen.

“We are so fortunate and I am so pleased about the visitors center to tell the great story of West Point,” Huntoon said. “Very early during my tour here, we did an assessment and we came to the visitors center and decided it could do better. The Frederic V. Malek West Point Visitors Center is oriented to West Point and the Hudson River.”

Through the glass entrance and glass window overlooking the Hudson River, visitors can see the Hudson River when they approach the visitors center, giving them a sense of the local scenic beauty and history of West Point.

“We need to tell the West Point story with the standard that West Point deserves,” Huntoon said.