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Saint Mary’s facilities undergo renovations to enhance student experience

| Monday, January 20, 2020

Over winter break, 17 renovation projects were completed across Saint Mary’s campus in order to improve student life, and a few more operations are slated to occur over the coming semester, Benjamin Bowman, director of facilities, said.

“In the library we renovated and expanded the student 24-hour space which included new paint, flooring, lighting and furniture,” Bowman said in an email. “We dedicated package rooms for our residential buildings to secure student packages. New hydration and bottle fill stations have been installed in multiple locations and the pews and floors in Holy Spirit Chapel were refinished.”

Maeve Filbin | The Observer

The newly renovated and expanded 24 hour space in Cushwa-Leighton Library is open to Saint Mary’s students.

In order to limit weather exposure to students, Bowman said the tunnel connecting the library to Le Mans Hall will be renovated.

“The renovation will include lighting, paint and a chair lift for accessibility purposes,” Bowman said. “This will allow students to travel from Le Mans to the 24-hour study space in the library without going outside.”

The renovations across campus are in light of the announcement in August that the College’s facilities staff would spend the summer working on projects to update dorms and the Cushwa-Leighton Library as part of a multi-million dollar plan to refresh campus facilities. By the time students returned to campus in August, a new elevator had been installed in Holy Cross Hall, Opus Hall had new flooring and the library was deep in the renovation process.

All of the facilities projects were planned with the students in mind, Bowman said.

“It was inspired by the need to improve the student experience and tackle deferred maintenance items,” he said. “We know the needs of the students have changed over the years and we are always seeking to improve the student experience. We recognize that our spaces don’t meet those needs so we are working to update and refresh them.”

The projects were developed as a joint effort of representatives of multiple groups to be most directly affected by the renovations.

“The groups who help plan vary based on the project but in general the entire College community was involved,” Bowman said.

Vice president of strategy and finance, Dana Strait, said in an email that the projects were influenced especially by the students who call the College home for almost nine months of the year. As a result, students were consulted before the projects were put into action to ensure that the various groups all shared the same vision.

“We have two committees dedicated to improving student and learning spaces,” Strait said. “Both committees have significant student representation, and one also includes graduate students.”

The bond to fund the renovations around campus was issued in late October of 2019; however, because the spaces being updated serve as central spaces of student life, most of the work has to be completed when students are off campus, Bowman said.

Strait said the renovations have been well received so far in the student body.

“We want to foster a better student experience,” Strait said. “We need to be attractive to prospective students and promote collaboration between students. It’s really been a win-win to both involve the students and then present them with some great updates to their spaces this year. Students have reported their excitement in seeing their recommendations being implemented across campus.”

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