“Students first” was the primary message on Friday, Feb. 1 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony held in Presidents Hall, one of three new additions to Shippensburg University’s renovation project.
“You are on the first floor of a four-story hotel,” University President William Ruud said.
With large flat-screen televisions, artsy décor throughout a spacious study room and lounge, game room complete with kitchen and a modern archway entrance, Presidents Hall is just short of a hotel in that it lacks a pool. And that was just the first floor.
The first phase in the three-stage process that began 15 months ago came to a close Friday with remarks from Ruud, the council of trustees, the development team, Vice President of Student Affairs Roger Serr and President of the Student Association Ethan Goldbach.
Immediately following the celebration of Phase 1, the ground-breaking of Phase 2 took place between the original Harley Hall and new Presidents Hall.
Ruud announced that Phase 2, with completion expected in August 2014, will bring students more of the “modern facilities in which they can live and learn.”
Along with new buildings comes a new term: residence halls. Dormitories or “dorms” have been replaced, but for many alumni and students, the old habit dies hard.
Darrell Miller, president of Student Services and a former resident of both Old Main and Naugle Hall, a double graduate of SU, shared that it was a difficult transition to say “residence hall.”
He also spoke on what he thought were the most important aspects of the university’s partnership with the development team; on-time completion, remaining on budget and 95 percent student occupancy of rooms.
Warren Burke, vice president of development for Campus Apartments, has worked on small projects from Georgia to Philadelphia, but never has he had such a “flawless” partnership, which can only lead to confidence in the Phase 2 aspect of renovation.
Minor issues, such as complaints of varying shower water temperature, have been voiced, however overall, students seem happy about their new homes in McLean Hall 2, Presidents Hall and Seavers Hall.
In addition to creating a homey environment for 924 students, Phase 1 offers a new wellness center that contains both counseling and health centers in one, as well as a new home for the honors program, soon to be renamed the “Honors College.”
As what Goldbach referred to as “the culmination of years of work” has ended, there are still two phases to watch as Shippensburg’s new landscape unfolds, the third and final estimated to reach completion in August 2015.