McDaniel College unveiled plans Friday afternoon for a $10 million renovation of the Decker College Center in the middle of the Westminster campus.
The project aims to modernize the student center by adding a fast-casual restaurant, McDaniel Pub — name aside, it will not serve alcohol — new student spaces, and offices for the Center for Experience and Opportunity and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
According to the release, construction is scheduled to start at the end of this month, after students have left for the end of the semester, and to be completed before the start of the 2020-21 school year. Some offices might need to be temporarily relocated during the construction.
“It [the student center] is the heart of a campus,” said Roger Casey, college president, “it is where students gather to dine, collaborate, entertain, relax, engage and connect. The purpose of a student center is to bridge the gap between academic and student life. Communities are created in student centers.”
“It’s about students,” he said. “We believe this student center has the potential not just to stand at our heart but to be the heart for our student body.”
The project is the first comprehensive renovation for the center since it was built in 1978, according to the release. Englar Dining Hall was renovated in 2011, according to a fact sheet from the college.
“We’re looking to renovate our student center to create spaces that are more functional as well as more modern,” said Cheryl Knauer, director of media relations for the college. “We really are looking at this as a way to remain competitive with other institutions and offer our students and the offices that serve our students with spaces that better meet and engage their needs.”
New features included in the renovation are:
- An innovation lab, designed to be an open, collaborative space for students outfitted with technology
- A new rec room on the lower level
- A rooftop terrace and garden
- An outdoor terrace with an amphitheater for student gatherings and performances
- A renovated patio
- A student lounge and recreation area
As part of the renovation, McDaniel College Bookstore will move to the lower level, according to the fact sheet.
Half of the project’s funding was contributed by Mary Lynn Durham, a member of the McDaniel Board of Trustees, and her husband, Bill Roj, both of whom graduated from the college in 1970, the release said. Several other trustees collectively donated another $2 million for the renovation.
The college is continuing to raise the remaining $3 million needed for the project, according to the release. Knauer said the college is actively looking for donors for the remaining funds and doesn’t have a specific deadline.
“I think it looks really exciting,” said Reaiah Rutherford, a junior sociology and criminal justice major. “They asked us in the past what we wanted and a lot of people said more lounge space and a better rec lounge. I think they took that into consideration, so I’m really excited about it.”
Aaron White, a sophomore psychology major, said, “It’s going to give the school more of a fresh, contemporary look, versus the rest of campus, which is a little rustic, a little old. So having this new, fresh space is going to bring a little warmth and fresh air to campus.”
“I’m excited for this because I’m going to see, I’m going to be here watching and see the final product,” said Cera Mcclingock, a sophomore history major. “So I’m excited to watch it all come together and be a part of the history of McDaniel.”
This announcement follows a February vote to no longer offer five majors and two minors. The college has called the move a reinvestment that will allow it to redirect funds into programs with stronger enrollment and retention or that show more potential to grow.
A news release at the time said savings from the restructuring would be reinvested to strengthen academic programs “to better meet the needs of the 21st century, and to create new programs that will expand the curricular offerings of the College.”
Knauer said the renovation is not tied to the removal of those programs or any resulting savings.
This story has been updated.