SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — About 50 members of the Wittenberg community gathered on Thursday, April 21, on the site of the university’s newest construction project to share in some dirt pudding. There was also hot coffee available, in case anyone needed something to wash the pudding down.
The dirt pudding – comprised of chocolate pudding topped by crushed cookies and laced with gummy worm candies – was served after a ceremonial groundbreaking on the construction site of Wittenberg’s future residence hall at the corner of Cassilly Street and Alumni Way. The approximately $10 million, state-of-the-art residence hall will be completed in time for the start of the 2006-07 school year.
In combination with three phases of renovations to the dining areas of the Benham-Pence Student Center and $2 million worth of improvements to the university’s athletic facilities, the construction of a new residence hall signifies a major commitment to the health and well-being of every member of the Wittenberg community – students, faculty, staff, alumni and the residents of the city of Springfield who often make use of the university’s facilities.
“A groundbreaking is symbolic,” said Carolyn Perkins, associate vice president for student development and dean of students. “It is an event that will start the process of adding a new foundation and changing the landscape of our campus.
“From the earth on which we stand today will arise a new infrastructure. We are laying the foundation for change.”
Wittenberg administrators went to great lengths to ensure student input on the new residence hall and its design. Fittingly, seven members of Student Senate, two administrators in the university’s student development area and interim president Bill Steinbrink turned over dirt as part of the groundbreaking ceremony.
“This is a great day to be a Tiger,” said Jonathan Scruggs, class of 2006 and Student Senate president for 2005-06. “One of the great aspects of Wittenberg is the sense of community. It’s so inviting.
“An important aspect of the Wittenberg experience for me has been the relationships I have made in my three years on campus. Hopefully this new residence hall will help build new relationships for students for many years to come.”
Scruggs, Elise Renz of Columbus, N.J., class of 2006, Brian DeSantis of Gates Mills, Ohio, class of 2007, Petal Morais of Colombo, Sri Lanka, class of 2005, Tricia Thackery of Urbana, Ohio, class of 2006, Mark Preston of Naples, Fla., class of 2008, and Dan Westlake of Columbus, Ohio, class of 2007, represented Student Senate for the groundbreaking, handling their spades alongside Perkins, Holly Reynolds, director of residence life, and Steinbrink.
The as-yet-unnamed residence hall will include 157 rooms with 195 total beds in 49,249 square feet of living space. It is innovative and certainly unlike any other residence hall on campus (although it is likely to become a model for future construction projects) with the inclusion of three fitness rooms and three laundry rooms, one each on each of the floors, and 13 lounge areas that will be spread throughout the building. The lounges will have computers with high-speed Internet connections and comfortable furnishings designed to create unique spaces for students to conduct study sessions, group meetings or to congregate with friends. Each room will have high-speed Internet connections and cable hook-ups as well.
The new residence hall will be adjacent to the Benham-Pence Student Center at the corner of Alumni Way and Cassilly Street. It will be home to first-year students exclusively in an attempt to address some of the recommendations of a first-year experience committee that has been examining campus life and how students are adjusting to Wittenberg. In providing easily accessible fitness rooms, laundry facilities and lounge areas on each floor, the design speaks to the wishes of students who participated in focus groups.
“Home is where the heart is,” Renz said. “In my three years here, I have fallen in love with Wittenberg. This place is home.
“When I lived in Myers Hall, I often reflected upon its history. It’s been a home to so many students through the years. My hope for this new residence hall is that it will be a home for Wittenberg students for many years to come.”
Several houses were razed and another was moved to the other side of campus in 2003 to prepare the site for eventual construction of a residence hall. Also at that time, Woodlawn Avenue was blocked from the intersections of Cassilly Street to the north and Ward Street to the south in order to create Alumni Way, a brick path exclusively for pedestrian traffic. The brick path currently stops just north of the Benham-Pence Student Center, but it will be completed in conjunction with the construction of the new residence hall. The hall and the path will be surrounded with attractive landscaping.
Students also wanted more parking and more green space, and construction of this new residence hall actually adds to both of those offerings as well. The structure will be surrounded by 114 parking spaces, and once the residence hall has been constructed, Hanley Hall, a residence hall located on the south end of campus facing Ward Street will be demolished and converted into green space.
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