Randolph College Opens New Student Center
Grand opening and ribbon cutting attract hundreds of Randolph community members
Randolph College officially opened its new Student Center located in historic Main Hall on Monday, Feb. 4 at 4:45 p.m. during a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony. This wasthe first opportunity for the Randolph community to see the finished facility since the $6 million renovation project began 20 months ago.
College officials and special guests were on hand to mark the occasion. After the ceremony, the Student Center was opened for use.
With its jaw dropping views, student-focused amenities and unique blending of the historic with the modern, Randolph's new Student Center was designed to transform life on campus. The project was funded completely by alumnae and their families and has become a symbol of Randolph's growth and progress.
“This is an important moment in Randolph’s history,” said John E. Klein, president. “The new Student Center will provide our College community with opportunities and social spaces that have not existed on campus before. By utilizing the existing building, we were able to preserve a part of our history while meeting the needs of current students and, with good planning, double our useable space.”
Alumnae funding the project included Sadie “Puff” Gravely Hampson ’41, Byrd and Alice Hilseweck Ball ’61, Tom and Sally Maier Rowe ’67, John and Mary Nichols ’37, and two alumnae who wished to remain anonymous. “The commitment of these alumnae signaled their confidence in the future of the College,” Klein said. “Thanks to this strong support, we have been able to enhance and expand a space that will bring significant improvement to life on campus.”
The renovation transforms the current space into a three-and-a-half-story building with generous social spaces for students and stunning views of Randolph’s back campus and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. A three-story entry atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows is filled with light and contains a spiral staircase from the first floor to the second floor. The first floor, which is connected to the Main Hall lobby, features “The Street,” which runs through the Student Center and includes Gravely-Hampson Commons, an open gathering space on one side, and an improved Skeller café on the other. The Skeller has been expanded to offer more menu choices and more student-friendly hours. A new dining area for the Skeller now offers seating for more than 90. An outside deck wraps around the west side of the building and the back of Main Hall, providing important outdoor gathering spaces and additional seating for the Skeller.
The entertainment section of the second floor, named Alice’s E-cade, features electronic gaming, pool tables, ping-pong, foosball, shuffleboard, and other activities available. This floor includes the glass-enclosed studio of WWRM, the student radio station. The deejay booth overlooks the Gravely-Hampson Commons below through a large opening in the floor. This level also includes the Heath Student Government Suite, which houses renovated Student Government offices and a conference room.
The focal point of the third floor is a fitness center with a mezzanine level. Here, a wall of windows opens the entire fitness center to views of back campus and the Blue Ridge Mountains. State-of-the-art cardio equipment is housed on both levels, and there is a special room for dance and yoga. Also on the third floor is Nichols Theatre, with its 70-plus stadium-style seats and performance area suitable for dance performances. Multiple conference rooms, including a board room, were also created on this floor. The Chandler Student Lounge will be located in the basement of the building, where the old bake shop for dining services used to be located. The renovation keeps energy efficiency and sustainability in mind with low-energy lighting, energy-efficient mechanical systems, double- and triple-glazed windows, and low-VOC carpet, paint, and cabinetry.
Randolph’s new Michels Plaza adjacent to the Student Center will also soon be completed. Construction of the new plaza began in the fall and was funded by a gift from Mary Michels Scovanner ’77. When the project is complete, it will have turned an asphalt parking lot into an attractive brick-lined plaza, complete with a fountain and amphitheater seating.
The amphitheatre seating is designed to mimic the seating in the Dell, Randolph’s Greek theatre, and the fountain, which will feature three bursts of water, will add energy to the space. In addition to landscaping, the design of the plaza will incorporate the same diamond pattern found on the front campus brick walkway and include bricks dedicated to faculty emeriti.
Michels Plaza and the Student Center were designed to work together to enhance and beautify one of the most traveled areas on campus, while providing a unique space for the community.
“The outdoor spaces associated with the Student Center and Michels Plaza will change and beautify the look and feel of back campus,” Klein said. “In addition to providing unique gathering spaces for students, classes, and other events, the two additions to campus highlight Randolph’s views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.”