McDaniel College is breaking ground on a $6.6 million project to expand and modernize classrooms and research spaces in the Gill Center.
The renovation project is being supported by a $3 million grant from Maryland, in addition to private donations, according to a news release from the college. It is slated to be completed next fall.
The Gill Center renovation facilitates the growth of the college’s largest major, kinesiology, formerly exercise science and physical education. The new name of the department and major, as of July 1, “better reflects the program’s academic focus on science in addition to offering courses designed to promote fitness and lifetime wellness,” according to the release.
Tom Phizacklea, vice president for administration and finance, said McDaniel is the only independent college or university in Maryland to offer a major in kinesiology.
“We’ve had a lot of success with this program,” he said.
Faculty in that program have been working in tight quarters and teaching outside of their building for far too long, Phizacklea said. The college is in the process of giving them the facility they deserve.
“The hope for the project is that we open up conversations across the county about race, about where we are with race relations in the county, and where we would like them to be in future,” said Val Brown Dennis, a member of the Carroll One Book planning committee.
“We’ve had this successful program going in facilities that weren’t nearly state of the art as they will be going forward,” he added.
Gill Center also houses McDaniel’s 24 intercollegiate athletic teams that compete in NCAA Division III and the Centennial Conference; and includes both Gill and Old Gill gymnasiums, Merritt Fitness Center and the Klitzberg Pavilion, as well as faculty and staff offices, according to the release.
The renovation is expected to maximize underutilized space within the existing Gill Center, according to the release. New classrooms; offices; and human performance, neuromuscular, anatomy and physiology labs will be created in reclaimed space under Old Gill.
Ed Sell, director of facilities planning, said the basement slab under Old Gill will be lowered to create the new labs. They will connect that space under Old Gill to the new Gill Building so the entire ground floor is all connected, he added.
The mezzanine level of Gill Gymnasium will also be reconfigured to create additional classrooms and spectators’ areas. Throughout the renovation, Gill Center will continue to be utilized by the campus community, according to the release.
“We’re phasing the project in such a way to keep the building open,” Sell added.
The Gill Center was built in two stages, 45 years apart, according to the release. The original gymnasium, which was the third such facility on campus, was built in 1939 for $75,000 and was named for 1910 alumnus, athlete and trustee Robert J. Gill.
The second phase — which included a field house, fitness center, wrestling room and locker facilities — opened in 1984, according to the release. Funds from the Gill estate helped to pay for the new facility. In January 1997, Old Gill was rebuilt and refurbished after a fire, according to the release.