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Officials to reformulate plan for new student center

This semester, Mills College will take one step closer to building a centralized student center on campus.

In 2005, the College developed plans for a student center on Adams Plaza. These plans included the relocation of Founders Commons to the plaza, an expansion of the Mills Bookstore and a combined mail and copy center and post office.

According to Vice President For Operations Renee Jadushlever, the student center has not been given the green light, but College facilities and campus planning staff are revising the initial plans.

“Obviously, we are four years past that, and there are new trends in food service that we will need to look at,” Jadushlever said.

The campus architects as well as housing and facilities staff have been looking at successful examples of student centers at other colleges. They will use this information to build a preliminary scope and present it to the Board of Trustees at its February meeting, according to Barbara Haber, interim associate vice president of Campus Planning and Facilities.

If the Board authorizes the plans, campus planners will meet with people who hold a stake in the new center: dining services, the bookstore, post office and others who share a space in Rothwell Center. Currently, student life offices, the Mary Atkins Lounge, the Parenting Lounge, and the Campanil newsroom are all housed in Rothwell.

Haber said she sees this step as being particularly important because she considers all the students in Rothwell as being stakeholders. “I see all that area as the center of campus, but the stakeholders might not agree,” she said.

Dean of Students Joi Lewis said she plans to hold a conversation with students about their hopes for a student center.

Lewis does not know when this meeting will be, but Jadushlever and Haber said it would probably be held in February.

Yet finding adequate funding for a student center is an issue. At a campus planning meeting on April 29, 2008, campus architect Karen Fiene said, “housing and dining [projects] are the hardest to get funding for. The Science building, Music building and MBA building were all largely funded by private donations.”

Haber agreed. “Funding is [an] issue in any project,” she said.

If the Board of Trustees does pass plans for the student center, most students who are currently attending Mills will not see the finished product.

According to Haber, it will take at least three years, from planning the building to finishing construction.