Revamping and Renovation

By Nicholas Tay

Features Editor

What major changes – to both facility and function – have occurred since the end of spring semester?

While the summer of 2012 may have been productive for some students, enlightening for a couple, or mostly boring for the rest, Messiah College has wasted no time in making and planning changes to the campus over the three and a half month break.
The college initiated a number of construction and facility enhancement projects with a two-fold intention: to improve existing structural placements and to synergize the mission of the college through the merger of similar programs.
Changes have also been elicited by student response: Dining Services has taken steps to enhance its resident dining menus as a result of student feedback and to possibly expand Lottie Nelson.
New faces are also aplenty, as three new residence directors and a director of international student programs have been spotted on campus.

Synergy through collaboration: the Intercultural Office
Students returning to campus this year would have noticed the bright, welcoming sign of the Intercultural Office as they traverse through the Larsen Student Union’s upper double doors. What first-years and transfer students may not know is that as of last semester, the Intercultural Office did not exist. Instead, its four offices – Education Abroad (formerly known as the Epicenter), International Programs, Multicultural Programs, and International Student Programs – were separate entities.
What then, led to the formation of the Intercultural Office? Faith Minnich, Director of International Programs, states that the merger of the offices was an “organic movement that grew out of a desire to continue our engagement in global issues, both on campus and off campus.”
The heads of each program met together and examined the effectiveness of the merger because the synergies resulting from the integration of the various programs would increase Messiah’s dedication to global awareness and engagement.
Minnich adds that “it was obvious that [the four offices] were doing different work, but related in that we were engaging students in a global context.”
With the goal of synergy in mind, students may inquire the Intercultural Office’s vision.
Kevin Villegas, the newly-appointed Director of International Student Programs, hopes that “by 2014, our office will be valued for its commitment to serving the campus community through its programs and services by highlighting the ongoing need for meaningful intercultural dialogue and connectedness.”
Minnich and Villegas acknowledge the immediate challenges faced by the creation of the new office, namely the lack of familiarity and the chance of misplaced focus.
Villegas states that the Intercultural Office needs time to brand itself as the “hub for anything intercultural on campus” such that the students will understand its purpose and goals. Minnich acknowledges another challenge in that the tremendous amount of programming that occurs may lead to misplaced focus. She states that it will be hard to ensure that “students remain at the heart of it.”
After all, “we’re here to serve students. That’s what’s most important to us,” says Minnich.

Synergy through proximity/Building Upgrades and Progress
New and returning students will also notice the changes – both finished and ongoing – to residence and academic buildings.
A significant project this summer was the renovation performed on Kelly Apartments. Kathie Shafer, the Vice President for Operations, states that they “replaced the kitchens, redid the cabinets and the flooring, and address the bathroom exhaust issues.”
According to Shafer, the upgrades to Kelly is part of “[Messiah’s] ongoing commitment to keeping the spaces updated. Kelly was the next residence building that needed a face-lift.”
Another project completed over the summer was the creation of new two new classrooms in Jordan-Kline for the Health and Exercise Science (HES) program. The exercise equipment previously in Eisenhower’s basement has been relocated to a central location on the Jordan-Kline’s first floor.
Shafer states that the creation of the new labs was necessary to “meet the needs of that program. It’s a growing program. It needed a good research place.”
Shafer remembers that before the change, “faculty would do “research in a classroom in Kline, go to Eisenhower to use the exercise equipment there, and come back. Now it’s all just a matter of walking up the hall or down the stairs.”
Along with the upgrades to existing buildings follow the major Messiah building projects: the creation of a learning commons at Murray Library and the completion of the Calvin and Janet High Center.
Shafer happily informs that the project is progressing as expected. She praises the contractors for their hardworking attitudes, stating that they stay “very late at night or come very early in the morning to try to get work done before noon.”
Shafer is excited for the completion of the library upgrade as “it brings many services together, which will better assist the students.”
She expects the first phase of the project to be done by mid-October; the second phase will see the initiation of the Learning Commons’ creation.
As for the High Center, Shafer expects construction to finish on time.  She states that the “building is scheduled to finish at the end of December so that we can move faculty in during J-term and open the building up during mid-January for student use.”
Shafer believes that “it’s at that time in the project that you know what everything’s be at and what everything’s going to look like.” She hopes that with the major structural work complete, the finishing aesthetic touches to the building will begin in October.

Dining Services: Listening to Student Feedback
Dining Services has not changed much facility-wise over the summer. Mark Wirtz, Dining Services Director, mentions that most of the changes were menu-related. Wirtz states that the menu changes to the various dining locations at Messiah resulted from student feedback. “Students have driven the program [Lottie menus]. Student forum has been a great feedback in driving in the direction that the students are looking for. We’re listening to what students are looking for in a dining program and respond to those changes.”
The student response has been primarily in favor of healthier options, vegetarian options, additional fruits and vegetables, and more wholesome, quality of life types of foods. As a result, Dining Services “enhanced the cycle menus in Lottie, primarily in vegetable additions, especially fresh vegetables and vegetarian options” with the advice of Susan Gilbert, Messiah College’s resident dietician.
However, the bigger question asked of dining services is the possible expansion of Lottie Nelson. Students and faculty have frequently suggested that increasing the seating capacity is a necessary change.
While he did not disclose the exact details pertaining to the expansion, Wirtz states that dining services has performed a feasibility study on the Lottie situation and is in the process of conducting a schematic study.
The feasibility study is basically a “look at the facilities of this building [Eisenhower] and finding out if it could take an expansion, could it handle a remodel, could it power its hood and air circulation system.” On the other hand, a schematic study encompasses a “basic layout of what expansion would look like and what the footprint of the renovation would be like if we chose to do a renovation.”
Wirtz hopes that once they get an idea of the costs associated with the building project, including a full phasing of the renovation process, they will be able to submit the costs to the President and the administration by October and to have the final costs possibly reviewed by the Trustees soon after.

New and Old Faces
This past summer has not only yielded changes to facilities and menus, but also several new faces on campus. Three new resident directors were added to the residence life family and the intercultural office welcomes a new Director of International Student Programs.
For Residence Life, this summer has seen the intake of three new residence directors (RD), namely Abby King (Kelly and Hess), Kevin Williams (Sollenberger and Mellinger), and Josiah Hatfield (Naugle).
Abby King is a Messiah alumna (’09) and a graduate of the English department. She recently finished a Masters of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Secondary Ed/English from Northeastern University.

King states that she was greatly impacted by her time at Messiah and she sees her RD position as a way to give back to Messiah and as a “doorway into students’ life.” She is “passionate about relationships.”
Her expectations for Hess are that the female community there would “bond together as sisters, practice Gospel-centered living and graciousness, and enjoying a sense of fellowship.”
Expectations for Kelly are similar, except that she sees the apartment life as “preparedness for transitioning into employment and family life after Messiah.”
Kevin Williams is a fresh face at Messiah. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, he graduated from Malone University with a degree in Youth Ministries and obtained a Master’s degree from Akron University. Williams states that he chose Messiah because Messiah was a college that remained “true to their Christian beliefs and values.” He pursued the RD position because he has an interest in mentoring students. Williams hopes that the students in Sollenberger and Mellinger “will get to enjoy the space that they live in and gain a sense of unity.” Most importantly, Williams wants to grow with the students he interacts with and hopes that their experiences will lead to spiritual growth.
For those living in Mellinger, Williams plans to help these students “get a sense of what it’s like to transition out of college” through events specifically for them.
Another fresh face at Messiah is the RD of Naugle, Josiah Hatfield. Hatfield is a Michigan native and finished both undergraduate (International Business) and graduate work (Masters in Higher Education and Student Development) at Taylor University.
Hatfield chose Messiah because he “heard really good things about Messiah from them [friends who graduated from Messiah].” He also mentions Messiah as a “place that really cares about the larger education of students.”
Hatfield values colleges which focus both on the educational and residence life aspects, and when he discovered Messiah’s dual foci in those areas, his heart was set on Messiah. Hatfield notes his prior experience in residence life influenced a decision to apply for the RD position. Hatfield hopes that over this next year, the residence life experience at Naugle will be conducted in a “safe environment where students feel like they’re at home and feel comfortable in growing in their relationships with one another and with the Lord as well. I also want it to be a place that fosters intellectual growth, with conversations from chapel carrying over and conversations from the classroom carrying over as well.”

The summer has also brought a new face to the Intercultural Office. Yet, Kevin Villegas is not exactly a new face at Messiah.
He graduated in 1998 with a degree in Communications from Messiah. He has worked at Messiah at the Public Relations Office and as a Resident Director before pursuing and finishing a Masters program in Christian leadership with emphasis in intercultural studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Villegas states “one of my immediate goals is to help with the transition to the new office structure of the Intercultural office and to help bring awareness of the changes, especially in relation to international student programs.” Despite the Intercultural Office’s inception, Villegas wants current international students to understand that “nothing has changed as far as the care and service they’re going to get from my program area”. Villegas values his days at Messiah, especially the times spent with ISA/MuKappa, because it helped him helped him process the meaning of his biracial background. He states that the position at Messiah is a “role that I was designed for and I see a reciprocal relationship in that I not only give back to the institution that has done so much for me, but also to a group of people who have also done much for me.”

From the newly furnished kitchens in Kelly to the ongoing changes at the High Center and the Library to the new faces on campus, the summer changes reflect Messiah’s ongoing commitment to student education, growth, and welfare.

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