In February, we celebrated an important milestone in the history of the College. After 20 months of dust, noise, and a great deal of patience from our community members, Randolph College opened its newly renovated Student Center. Two classes of current students had never experienced a Student Center on campus, and the other two classes had only vague memories of the old facility.
If the response of our students, faculty, and staff is any indication, the wait was well worth it! From the moment we cut the ribbon and opened the new Student Center, the facility has created excitement and exceeded our expectations. In just weeks, the Student Center has become exactly what we planned—the heart of campus.
Students stake out comfortable spots in Gravely-Hampson Commons or the new Skeller café to work on their laptops or chat over coffee. Staff members bring their families to enjoy lunch or dinner from the new Skeller, and faculty are holding small classes in the gathering spaces. The ping pong and pool tables and the gaming systems in Alice’s E-Cade are in constant use, and students are enjoying their workouts in the cardio and fitness center on the third floor. The Heath Student Government Suite and Chandler Student Lounge have also added more social spaces for students.
The facility is also already helping the College’s visibility. Television and print media created a buzz in the community by focusing positive attention on the grand opening. Just days after the ribbon cutting, Randolph used Nichols Theatre and other spaces to host the Ethics Bowl competition of 15 Virginia colleges put on by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. Two college presidents who saw the Student Center each told me that they had subsequently sent over a staff member to check it out!
The Student Center is a perfect example of our alumnae making a real difference. This transformational renovation is helping us meet the needs of our students today and in the future. Not only do our current students now have a place to call their own, which will help student retention, but the Student Center will also serve as a big selling point to prospective Randolph students.
The best part? The $6 million renovation was fully paid for by a small group of generous alumnae and their families. Thanks to these forward-thinking individuals, Randolph has been able to double the usable space in pretty much the same building-envelope and provide needed and enjoyable amenities without taking on debt that would burden the College financially.
We encourage you to find your way back to campus to see our new Student Center yourself. You can also count on it serving as an important venue for alumnae returning for Reunion in May. What a great time to be at Randolph!
John E. Klein