A parking lot near the center of campus turned orange as students participated in a groundbreaking for a new residence hall to be built there. The campus community, including several hundred students decked out in orange T-shirts, watched the first shovels of dirt turned for the new facility on Tuesday (Oct. 5). The ceremony also included remarks from members of the Heidelberg community, a representative from University Housing Solutions of Mansfield and Tiffin Mayor James Boroff.
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, those in attendance stood shoulder to shoulder to form the perimeter of the 47,000 square-foot Residence Life & Learning Hall near the center of the campus. A photograph was taken from the roof of neighboring Brown Residence Hall to preserve the moment.
President Rob Huntington said the new hall will be “something really big” on campus, not only because of its central location but because of the opportunities it offers students and the campus. The University Commons will be built as part of the project, and will serve as a fun hang-out space for everyone.
“This is all about our students, about academic excellence and the student experience, and our efforts and focus to bring more value to each Heidelberg student,” the president said. “It’s all about making your living and learning space more vibrant, more attractive and more compelling.”
Students are excited about the potential of the new hall and commons. The residence hall will become home to 124 students, primarily sophomores. Deana Shook ’14, a Student Senator, said students are “thrilled to hear about the attributes of the hall.”
“This will be a wonderful way for students to become closer and more engaged,” she said. “This represents more than bricks and mortar for us.”
The new hall and commons should be completed by Aug. 1, in time for the 2011-12 academic year.
It’s been 45 years since Heidelberg has constructed a new residence hall from the ground up. In 1999, Williard Residence Hall was rebuilt following a fire. And, as President Huntington pointed out, it’s been 25 years since students have had a true place to hang out.
“We’re creating this space on campus so we can live, eat, play and congregate together,” said Dustin Brentlinger, dean of Student Affairs. “It’s going to be a great building that I like to call the family room at Heidelberg. We’re really excited about it.”
Bud Vetter, CEO of University Housing Solutions, who will partner with Heidelberg to construct the new residence hall, said the hall will be groundbreaking in its design. “This is a unique design not done on any other campus,” he said. “It will be one of a kind. You will be very proud of it.”
“It will be something the campus can rally around for many years to come.”
Tiffin Mayor Jim Boroff, who graduated from Heidelberg in 1973 and lives near the campus, added his excitement for the project. “I love the sea of orange,” the mayor said. “Every building constructed is done with a supreme vision of excellence. Heidelberg does nothing half way. That’s why I’m proud to be an alumnus.”
President Huntington said the new residence hall, the recently opened Adams Hall and the soon-to-be-opened Media Communication Center, are interconnected projects that work to keep Heidelberg moving toward its goals of improving academic excellence and the student experience.
The president said he has been pleased with the contribution of ideas and support from the campus community, and especially students, who have weighed in about the features they would like to see in the new University Commons.
“We’re all in this together,” President Huntington said.