$3 million Founders Hall renovation slated for Summer 2012

Guilford College administrators say a $3 million Founders Hall renovation that will change the look and function of the student union’s existing structure will take place this summer.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Aaron Fetrow said that the college wants the new Founders Hall to serve as the hub of activity and the focal point for student programs.

“We hope students will use Founders very informally and spend time studying, hanging out and meeting,” said Fetrow.

Fetrow credited Vice President for Administration Jon Varnell and President and Professor of Political Science Kent Chabotar with making the Founders renovation — which has been made possible by donations — a priority.

“There was not one dollar of tuition money put into the renovations of Founders Hall,” said Chabotar.

Varnell said that though the materials and appearance will be innovative, the idea to give Founders a fresh look and feel are far from being new.

“The Founders renovations build on many visions created over the past decade with various Founders plans that have been done by groups of faculty, staff and students,” said Varnell.

The Founders renovation will include a stairwell in its center, with the upstairs overlooking the space below in a top-to-bottom open work environment. A mini-art gallery is currently in the last parts of the planning phase as well.

Some, like sophomore Peter-Lawrence Terrell, a Founders renovation committee member, are optimistic about the changes. Terrell said that he offers the committee his thoughts on what students would like to see in a student union, contrasted with how Founders is currently used.

“Founders will be more open and inviting to students,” said Terrell. “Also, the committee is making sure that students have an input in the renovations, which is something most colleges do not allow.”

Founders Hall, which houses the majority of student organization offices, as well as the college’s dining facilities, bookstore and mail services, is the most centrally located building on the Guilford campus.

Discussions about how space is to be divided for those student organizations that require a degree of enclosure, such as WQFS, The Guilfordian and CAB, are nearly finished.

Fetrow said some student organizations, such as Pride, will move out of Founders entirely, as the need for Safe Zone training in a private setting is more necessary than being centrally located.

“We just want to see the renovations actually make a change, instead of just making dated space new,” said Fetrow.

Varnell told The Guilfordian that he hopes that as many people will contribute to the planning process as possible.

“Now is a key time for input and many changes are coming out from the open meetings, which is why we have them,” said Varnell, who has been attending meetings with the community and various student organizations following Community Senate to examine and redefine how the space will be used.

Adam Faust, a sophomore and Founders renovation committee member, said that he weighs in when a question posed to the committee elicits a thought that he thinks should be heard.

“So far, I have advocated from an art student’s point of view, a tour guide’s perspective, and just a regular student’s point of view,” said Faust. “I am really excited to see the upgraded Founders, and have been pleased with the changes the committee is suggesting.”

Faust said the ultimate decision will be up to Chabotar, whom Faust hopes will pay attention to what the Founders renovation committee has to say.

Vice President of Enrollment Services Randy Doss said that he believes the renovations made to Founders Hall will make it a comfortable destination that more students will want to use, which would ultimately help draw in new students with its charm.

“Certainly prospective students will see the commitment we have to community when they see the construction in Founders,” said Doss.

Varnell agreed with Doss, telling The Guilfordian that the administration will make renderings of the future plans public once they have been discussed with the community and pending Chabotar’s approval.

With the plans nearing final completion, Fetrow shared his excitement.

“You can paint my office chartreuse; I don’t care about color. I’m just excited to see students in the building and using it,” said Fetrow.