Summer upgrades


Students return to campus improvements

BLUFFTON, Ohio—The lobby in Hirschy Hall is the latest residence hall lobby to get a makeover at Bluffton University.

Students moving in at Hirschy this weekend will see a lobby, and adjacent lounge, with new paint, flooring and furniture, courtesy of a 50-year class gift from Bluffton’s class of 1965.

The renovation is among this summer’s improvements on campus, where new and returning students will converge for the start of fall classes on Monday. Changes in the landscape also include the conversion of two tennis courts to basketball courts and, most visibly, the installation of artificial turf on Alumni Field at Salzman Stadium, along with resurfacing and upgrading of the track and field event areas there. Donors have funded the Alumni Field project with more than $750,000 in contributions.

The Hirschy lobby renovation comes one year after a similar project in Bren-Dell Hall that was also funded by a 50-year class gift, from the class of ’64. It also completes a three-year effort—beginning with Hirschy Annex in 2013—to upgrade the lobbies in the oldest residence halls, said Kevin Nickel, the university’s vice president for fiscal affairs.

In addition to the installation of updated furniture and replacement of tile with wooden flooring and new carpet, the Hirschy project has opened up the lobby/lounge area. A counter, cabinets and a wall have been removed, as have the doors that previously led into the lounge. Paneling covered with wallpaper has given way to freshly painted walls as well.

“The lobby renovation was undertaken because of our ongoing commitment to developing community at Bluffton,” said Dr. Julie DeGraw, vice president for student life and dean of students. “We believe that providing an inviting space designed for multiple uses will draw students to spend more time together, which allows for continued growth for the students and a stronger sense of connection.” 

Near Hirschy are the two new basketball courts—the result of a student initiative, approved by a vote of students and financed from a student project fund, Nickel said. A new fence separates the courts from the four remaining tennis courts.

In progress, meanwhile, is an upgrade of the campus’s information technology infrastructure for the increased number of electronic devices used by faculty, staff and students.

Also, in another student-generated project, a fire circle and benches are being installed adjacent to Adams Bridge, behind Ropp Hall. “The addition of the fire circle is hoped to provide a space for weekend social programming as well as a possible outdoor location for classes or spiritual life activities,” DeGraw said.