The creation of a new, multi-purpose dining facility will force students on the Hill to change the way they are used to eating starting in 2008.

Sarah Royce
The regents approved a dining center on the Hill that will be used by residents of four out of the five residence halls in the area. (TREVOR CAMPBELL/Daily)

Yesterday, the Board of Regents approved a $65 million project to attach a new Hill Dining Center to Mosher-Jordan Residence Hall and renovate the dorm at the same time, a change that at least for two years will have students displaced to other areas.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said the plan includes placing students in Northwood III, but the University has housed undergrads in the family housing dorms on North Campus for the past two years now, often with complaints from the families who live there with young children. Peterson added that it will be especially critical this year for the admissions office to hit its goal of admitting 5,400 to 5,500 new freshmen. In each of the last two years, the University has overshot that goal by about 500 students.

Even when the renovations to Mosher-Jordan are complete, there will be fewer beds than there are now, University Housing Director Carole Henry said.

The dining center will be used for four of the five dorms on the Hill – Mosher-Jordan, Stockwell, Alice Lloyd and Couzens – but only students living in Mosher-Jordan will be able to reach the dining facility without going outside. After seeing a presentation by the architects, Goody Clancy & Associates, the regents voted to approve the project. Work will begin as soon as the students move out of the dorms this April.

“These projects are terrific examples of renovating student residential space so it connects more seamlessly to our students’ learning environment and enhances the overall quality of student life,” University President Mary Sue Colman said at the meeting.

The dining center will be attached to Mosher-Jordan and will look out onto Palmer Field. The design includes large glass windows and two levels. Henry said the ground floor will be a traditional, but modern, dining hall equipped with food stations offering students a wide variety of options, such as pizza, stir-fry and hamburgers, on any given night. Citing a University Housing survey of 2,400 students, Housing spokesman Alan Levy said the emphasis would be on preparing the food in front of students and keeping it fresh.

The plans for the Dining Center also include a second-level emporium that will act more as a lounge than a dining hall. The area will be equipped with wireless Internet and a snack bar, and even students without meal credits will be able to use the upper level without paying to get inside. The hope is that students will use the area to study – both on their own and in groups.

“We’re trying to be really sensitive to the new environment today of living and learning together,” Henry said. “There are different standards for living and learning than there were when these facilities were built (in 1930).”

While the students on the Hill make the move to one dining hall for all four dorms, the former cafeterias will be converted to living and studying areas. The dining hall in Mosher-Jordan will be revamped next summer with the rest of the building, but Henry said that there is no timeframe for when the other three dining halls will be converted.

The Mosher-Jordan renovation will be mostly on the inside of the dorm. Other than a few exterior changes – such as moving the loading dock away from front entrance to the north end of the dorm – the outside of Mosher-Jordan will remain mostly unchanged. Instead, the renovations will focus on upgrades to the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems, as well as the introduction of wireless Internet and climate control, controlled by the students.

“The overall renovation of Mosher-Jordan is essential to preserving the infrastructure of this architecturally important building,” E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, said at the regents’ meeting.

The project will be the first major renovation ever to a University residence hall. It is also the first project in the University’s larger housing renewal plan – the Residential Life Initiative.

Until the dorm reopens in 2008, the University will have to find housing for the students who the construction displaces. Last year, 63 percent of the nearly 500 students in Mosher-Jordan were freshmen, and Levy said he expected that this year’s numbers were about the same. The hope is to begin informing students of their options by early October.

In addition to the renovations on the Hill, the regents also approved two more renovation projects. A $12-million project to bring an emporium to Bursley Residence Hall and renovate the electrical and fire protection systems was approved, and Oxford Housing will also get updated fire detection and alarm systems at a cost of $3.9 million.

The regents also approved a 3.5-percent increase to Coleman’s salary. Before the raise, Coleman made $484,500.

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