By Leanndra W. Padgett
Several renovation projects have been in progress on campus this summer, as the cherry pickers and caution tape around the chapel remind us. Some of the projects are funded by a $500,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation, Inc. which the college received in January with the purpose of improving college facilities. Others are paid for by the standard maintenance budget.
The Brown grant made it possible to paint the hallways and lobbies of Allen, Collier and Flowers halls. In addition, the Greek houses, excluding Phi Mu and Alpha Gamma Delta, underwent restroom renovations. Work on the PHA bathrooms is incomplete, but will resume during fall break. Because of the amount of dust caused by the demolition aspect of the renovations, it is necessary for the workers to wait until the dorm is not full of students to continue the project. The dusty work will be completed during fall break, and the entire project should be finished in about 10 days.
Work will also resume in Anderson Hall during fall break when the West parking lot will be recoated and striped. Completed projects in Anderson include moving the laundry facilities from the first floor, where graduate education offices are currently housed, to the third floor. An air quality and drainage project has also been finished. The second floor was painted this summer, along with the halls of the third floor, but the rooms on the upper floor will not be redone until next summer.
Other non-grant renovations include additional painting in Allen, Collier, Flowers and Knight. The porch of the Alpha Gam house has been improved, also. Collier and Flowers have 172 new mattresses, but many students complain that they are worse than the old ones. The mattresses are plastic coated and, according to Flowers resident senior Alex Courtenay, “are too small for the bed. My feet hang off of them and my pillow is constantly falling off… I don’t like them.”
As evidenced by the painting and mattress purchasing, investments were recently made into Collier Hall. This made it especially surprising when it was taken out of use during the second week of school. There were only 20 men living in Collier this year, and the low number was one of the reasons cited for its closure. In an email to the student body, Laura Wyly, dean of students, said that the choice was made in order “to provide these students with a better experience in a residence hall with more activity, resources, connections, services, etc.” She said that compressing dormitories is also a more practical use of staff resources. Her third reason was to “give us opportunities to make headway with renovations, repairs, etc., so the college is better prepared going forward when demand for living space increases.”
With Pierce Hall taken out of use permanently in fall of 2012 and scheduled for demolition, it leaves one to wonder what the quad will look like in the future, but Wyly reassures that Collier will be re-opened when it is once again needed.
Outside of residence hall improvements, the student center has also undergone some changes. The campus bookstore was renovated and the Office of Diversity moved out of the rented house on the corner of Military and College Streets into a new room beside the store on the Grille level.
Robbi Barber, associate director of the Office of Diversity, said the move was “bittersweet,” but that the new location is in a more convenient location. She is hopeful about the move and says it already “feels like home to me and to [the students].”
Additional projects include repairs to the roof of the Alumni Gym, funded by alumni donations. The Chapel also had its roof and gutters patched, was painted and had masonry work done on the Jackson Street entrance. These improvements were funded by alumni along with The Gheens Foundation. Another maintenance change is a new recycling system. More information on that will come later.