Fresh and Refreshing: New Dining Hall Worth the Wait
On March 5, 2013, students, trustees, faculty, staff, architects and community members gathered to celebrate the $7 million renovation and expansion of Ware Student Center.
The 14,020 square feet of new construction includes 300 additional seats in the dining hall and a revamped servery.
The impact of the improvements is apparent after just one semester.
Accessible 24/7, the new arrangement allows for more interaction between students and dining hall staff. Many students have made positive comments about the added space, improved lighting and ventilation, says Mike Heffernan, manager of Sodexo Dining Services. They like the options for seating areas and spend hours in the new student center spaces.
Nick Ciarlante '14, president of the Student Government Association, concurs.
I saw a lot of students there deep into the night, especially as the semester wrapped up. Psychology majors were in there doing their IRB proposals; people could work in larger groups, and they met thereafter the library closed.
Other hits have been the dining hall's foyer. It was quickly adopted as a space for student groups to setup information tables to get the word out about events and projects. Elkay water dispensers with an auto cutoff save water and keep more than 31,000 disposable water bottles out of the waste stream.
And what's a dining hall without good food and people? Everywhere in the improved servery there is increased interaction between students and staff. Diners can pick up afresh prepared salad and discuss its ingredients with a knowledgeable Sodexo staffer. Lee Ann Wanczyk works daily to prepare vegan options and has developed a devout following. The stir-fry area is always busy at lunchtime with Mariah Fong's homemade sauces and international dishes, and her work draws rave reviews from students, faculty and staff members.
I love the stir-fry area. Mariah remembers what like, so when she sees me coming, she is already grabbing my favorite sauce, says Diep Nghiem '15. I don't need to say anything. I think it's awesome how they all care for every student. I like the high tables by the window, too. I eat and look outside; it feels so peaceful.
It's clear that the finished project was worth the wait. With the new and improved dining hall at the heart of the heart of campus, Colby-Sawyer is now an even better place to be a student.
by Michael Clark, Assistant Director, Admissions