Campus improvements to greet students

By Renee Bruck
Courtesy of the Madison Courier

Students returning to Hanover College may find the buildings look the same ... until they go inside.

Four of the six building projects that began earlier this year will be completed before most students return to campus for the start of school on Labor Day, Hanover College President Sue DeWine said.

The new Ward and Jo Ann Withrow Student Activities Center was completed prior to the end of the last academic year, and the college's new learning center, dining room renovations and infrastructure upgrades will be completed in the next few weeks.

"It's amazing that everything seems to be ahead of schedule," DeWine said. "So far, there's been no disruptions."

The Ward and Jo Ann Withrow Student Activities Center provides space for students to meet with friends to work on projects or just socialize. The center also features a common area for students to meet with a study lounge, stage area and television areas, as well as student life offices.

Scott Klein, the college's director of operations, said the campus coffee shop will move to the student area.

The student activities space, much like the learning center renovations in the library and the outdoor athletic fields, was paid for by donations from alumni and friends of the college.

Another area where students will see a difference is the student dining area.

Once completed, the dining facility will feature an open floor plan with individual food stations. Most of the food stations will remain similar to previous options - except for the addition of a new soft serve ice cream station and additional vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The dining space will also feature new tables and chairs for nearly 300 people.

"We haven't lost any space at all," Klein said of the improvements. "It's really about enhancing the students' dining experience."

The $1 million project was funded through a Sodexo food service renewal agreement, Klein said.

Students will have a new area in the library for homework help during the academic year because of the renovations over the last few months. Kay Stokes, director of the learning center, said the new space provides an area for the 62 peer tutors to meet with groups for study sessions.

The learning center will provide classroom-like spaces with white boards for small groups, as well as an area for large groups to gather for study sessions.

"We're very, very thrilled to have a new space," Stokes said.

One project that won't be seen, but will be felt, is the $3.2 million infrastructure project that updated heating, cooling and lighting in several of the college's buildings.

The infrastructure project will pay for itself within about five years because of the energy savings, Klein said.

"It'll start saving us this fall," Klein said.

DeWine said the project brought nearly all of Hanover's buildings up to the newest energy-saving standards.

"Only two (projects) will continue into the academic year," DeWine said.

The $6 million Lynn Hall renovations will turn the former gymnasium into a space for upperclassmen dorms, and two classrooms will be completed by the fall of 2014.

"Lynn Hall is completely cleared out and ready for construction," DeWine said.

The renovations will provide more than 70 beds on campus, something that's needed with the increase in student enrollment. DeWine said one of the residence halls wasn't even used when she first came to Hanover College in 2007. Currently, all the residence halls are being used.

"We need this new residence hall," DeWine said. "Now we're full up."

The college hopes to employ local construction companies for the project, she said, much like they have throughout the summer with other renovations.

Portions of the outdoor athletic field improvements will also continue through the upcoming academic year. The athletic field project should be completed by the fall of 2014 with crews working around athletic schedules to limit disruptions.

Construction crews plan to begin with preliminary work on the college's new football stadium within the next few weeks, Klein said.

Hanover College saw the beginning of six major renovation projects on the campus over the last year, thanks in part to the three-year Live Our Legacy campaign and donations from college alumni. Still, these types of large-scale, combined renovations aren't common - especially all at one time.

"It's the first time we've done so many projects together since I've been here," DeWine said. "(These renovations) will hold us for a while."