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College undergoes renovations to beautify campus

Mills College is undergoing several renovations to help beautify and improve the campus for the upcoming Commencement ceremony and the fall semester.

Some of these projects are estimated to be completed prior to graduation on May 15.

The “Turtle Pond,” located near Cowell along Richards Road, will be refilled this month, for example. It was drained last summer after leakage damage occurred to the concrete base, according to Architectural Assistant Brian Harrington. This time a plastic liner is being installed to prevent any more leaking, and the stone spout rebuilt.

The turtles that resided in the pond before it was drained were moved to the reflecting pool between Orchard Meadow and Warren Olney dormitories.

In addition to the pond, Lisser Theater is being repainted and construction on a joint biology department and Botanic Garden facility is currently underway. The shed will be named Gaia House and will serve as an educational facility and storage shed for propagating plants and storing materials. Harrington said he hopes it will be finished by the end of summer.

Construction on Gaia House near the Botanical Garden is underway. (Stephanie Scerra)

Other renovations won’t begin until the academic year comes to a close.

“Over the summer, Carnegie Hall will be renovated to house more offices for the [Office of Institutional Advancement] OIA fundraising,” he said, and also mentioned that the C-Wing in White Hall will receive minor improvements to include the OIA department. In addition, plans to move and expand the Mail and Copy Center to Rothwell Center will unfold over the summer.

Plans to renovate Founders Commons dining hall were launched at the beginning of this semester and are estimated to be completed before the fall semester begins, though construction for the new pathways has been halted because of the rainy weather.

“They [the construction crew] haven’t been able to grade it and pour the concrete,” said Dorothy Calimeris, Director of Auxiliary Services. “Every time they plan to start it, it rains, so they can’t get started.”

The new renovations at Founders include building smooth pathways to lead up to the new entrance of the building on the back patio and a new bathroom, which should be completed in the next few weeks, according to Calimeris. Founders will also be refurnished with soft seating, new tables and chairs and Bon Appetit is planning to rearrange the building to accommodate more dining options, such as a taqueria.

Founders will close May 17 and dining services will be moved to the Tea Shop for summer students participating in EF, the Hellman program, the Summer Academic Workshop and the Middlebury Language Program. The kitchens located in Orchard Meadow and Warren Olney will be open during the summer to serve students staying in the residence halls.

Plans to renovate Rothwell Center to accommodate more student services has been put on hold indefinitely, though Vice President for Operations Renee Jadushlever said at a campus-wide meeting that small changes, including possibly purchasing heat lamps for the plaza, were in the works for next semester.

Calimeris said she hopes a new student center, if one gets built, will accommodate more dining services with a continuous access to food.

“Until we get the new student center, we really are confined in answering student complaints about dining services,” she said. “We want to offer more flexibility.”