Learning and living go hand in hand. And an upcoming renovation campaign focuses on transforming the learning environment for Union College students. While classrooms are the obvious places learning happens, residence halls are also an integral part of education. Students study, tutor, and prepare in their residence hall rooms, and feeling comfortable and safe can help students focus on their studies.
The Learning and Living Campaign project will be realized in two phases. Phase one, slated for summer 2019, includes renovating 34 residential rooms in Rees Hall and reworking the lower-level amphitheater in the Everett Dick Administration Building. Phase two, beginning summer 2020, will involve renovations of second-floor classrooms in the administration building and possible additional residence hall upgrades.
Maranatha Volunteers International is recruiting a group of volunteers to Union’s campus this summer to help complete the renovations to Rees Hall rooms—a significant contribution to help make the project possible.
Renovations to Rees Hall
“Our reason for everything we do on campus is to make the college experience better for our students,” said Stacy Stocks, Union’s dean of women. “While they are growing, learning, and becoming adults in Christ on our campus, we want them to be in the best possible location to do that. Students spend significant time in the residence halls, and their living spaces are the face of Union for them. Where they live makes a big impact.”
After more than 60 years, Rees Hall rooms are showing their age. Cabinetry, closets, flooring, sinks, and windows are worn, and while maintenance and cleaning can help keep them functioning, some surfaces are becoming too aged to repair. The planned renovations will replace furniture and surfaces and add cost-effective LED lighting, fresh paint, new outlets and updated thermostats. Hallway lighting, bathrooms, laundry rooms and study rooms will also receive minor upgrades, including new paint.
“We want our school to be representative of what God is doing on campus and in students’ lives,” Stocks said. “We have great programs, exceptional people and a beautiful campus. But Rees Hall is aging, and we want to create the best possible spaces for our students’ home away from home. I believe these upgrades—along with recent improvements to our common areas—will help the women’s residence hall become a better place to learn and live.”
The third and fourth floors on the east wing of Rees Hall will be done first. Those halls are inhabited mainly by freshmen and sophomores, and because each room is double-occupancy, 68 students will be positively affected by the phase-one upgrades.
Most of the work will be performed by a crew of Maranatha volunteers, with Union’s Plant Services team acting in a support role.
David and Susan Woods will head the Maranatha project. “School renovations are a big part of what our volunteers do every year,” David Woods said. The couple has a direct connection to Union. Their son, Justin, graduated in 2011, and their youngest daughter, Marquelle, is a current student. The couple say they’re excited about bringing their organization’s expertise and passion to such a student-focused project.
A facelift for administration building amphitheater and classrooms
Multiple academic programs share the classrooms on the second floor of the Everett Dick Administration Building and in the amphitheater on the lower level. But modern teaching styles and an emphasis on technology and collaborative learning make renovations necessary in those areas.
Teaching methods and the way classrooms are used has changed since the building was constructed in 1975. “Teachers don’t solely use lecture-based methods anymore,” said LuAnn Davis, vice president for Advancement. “We want our facilities to match today’s learning and teaching styles, and to do that, we need to improve the capacity for students to use technology in these areas.”
Plans for upper-level classrooms focus on updating and modernizing, including adding flexible workspaces, seating and upgraded technology. But replacing small desks with adaptable seating can limit the number of students each room can comfortably hold. So for larger classes, the amphitheater needs to have more flexible seating for students.
Planners have prioritized the amphitheater upgrades for summer 2019 with second-floor classroom renovations slated for summer 2020.
Be part of the project
This two-phase project requires a two-pronged approach: volunteers and financial gifts will make the goals possible.
Maranatha is working to recruit 80-100 volunteers to complete the Rees Hall renovations June 23-July 12. “There is a considerable number of people in the Lincoln area who are Maranatha volunteers, and we’re hoping those volunteers as well as alumni from around the country will come to help with this project,” said Susan Woods, Maranatha project coordinator.
Maranatha’s presence on the Rees Hall renovations means the budget can go further. “Our volunteers provide support and labor, and that can be a real asset to maintenance departments and budgets,” David Woods said.
Susan Woods confirms that volunteers don’t need to be experienced builders or of a certain age, as on-site training enables volunteers from teenagers to seniors to pitch in. “Volunteers are always surprised how much gets done in a short time, but with a lot of people working, a lot gets done,” she says.
With an eye toward the future and a goal for providing better accommodations for students living and learning at Union, the fundraising campaign has begun. “Everyone I’ve worked with in Adventist education is looking to make it better for students, and this is a great opportunity to do that,” Stacy Stocks said. “That warrants the focus of resources and the consideration of a gift.”
The Learning and Living Campaign is about more than paint, windows, tables and chairs. It is about creating a learning environment that best enables our students to experience an exceptional educational experience and become the people God created them to be.
Union needs $525,000 to make phase one a reality and generous donors have already given more than $200,000 for these projects.
Right now, thanks to an additional $125,000 challenge from a generous benefactor couple, your gift will go twice as far. Every gift matters—no matter the dollar amount. Learn more about the project and make a gift at ucollege.edu/LearningAndLiving
Lauren Bongard Schwarz is a Union graduate and
freelance writer living in Bozeman, Montana.