When Bluefield College students return for the fall 2011 semester, they just might not recognize the school’s dining hall, thanks to the completion of a quarter-million-dollar renovation project this summer.
Not long after BC students left campus for summer break in May, the college began a massive restoration effort inside Shott Hall, which houses the school’s dining facilities. And, on Friday, August 19, just days before the students were set to return for the fall semester, the college celebrated the completion of those renovations, the most significant to the building since the early 1920s.
“This is an exciting day for Bluefield College and an exciting day for our students as they begin to enjoy the amenities of this new dining hall,” BC President David Olive told faculty, staff, special guests and a handful of students on hand for the unveiling ceremony. “It’s truly a more modern, state-of-the-art, student-friendly facility.”
With more than $250,000 in funding from Valley Services, the school’s food services provider, BC removed temporary walls separating the conference room and Student Activities Center from the dining hall and constructed permanent, soundproof walls in their place. Workers also designed and constructed a new free-flowing serving area, along with open space for not only food, but also fellowship.
“This is tremendous,” said Julie Johnson, chair of the BC Board of Trustees. “The dining hall was designed around the needs of the students and takes dining and fellowship into consideration. With this project completed, it puts us in a better position to serve the increased enrollment we’re experiencing as a result of our continued growth and the addition of our football program.”
The new dining hall features large open spaces where students can not only eat, but also relax or study. In fact, widescreen televisions and computer hookups are available in the room.
“Everyone on staff in the dining hall is so excited for the students to come back and see all the new furnishings, serving line, how the walls have been opened, everything we have to offer,” said Jenny
Phillips, BC’s food services manager. “We were limited in the past with the surroundings we had, but now it’s really going to be exciting for everyone to see.”
The new free-flowing serving line features fry cook and grill items cooked on demand. The renovations also include new tile flooring and ceiling fans, a fresh new coat of paint for all the walls, and new tables, chairs and other furnishings all throughout the room.
“There’s a live cooking area here, a new tray line, and even a new system for returning your tray after you have finished,” said project manager Josh Cline. “There is a lot of sweat equity in this project. The staff and faculty pitched in to help with some of the painting and other things.”
Among the special guests on hand for the renovation celebration were Valley Executive Vice President George Ardelean and Valley District Manager Edmond LeDoux, who helped custom design the new dining hall to meet BC student needs. The dining room is just part of an overall renovation effort in Shott Hall that includes improvements to a conference room and the Student Activities Center.
“This is just a part of what we’re doing to make the college a better place and to ultimately make our community a better community,” said Dr. Olive. “We invite alumni and friends to join us in future projects and in the life of the college.”
The college recently completed the construction of East River Hall and is in the planning stages for another new residence facility, along with a Campus and Community Wellness Center.
“The great part about projects like this (Shott Hall) is that it really inspires everyone on campus to see what really can be done,” said Cline “We have more exciting projects planned, and this is just the starting point of what’s to come in the next few years.”