Construction Update: Opening New Areas

Students, staff celebrate end of another construction phase by bringing down a wall


Clarion Staff Photo

Meshan Adams, a member of the Madison College Student Senate, takes a swing with a sledge hammer at the temporary wall that separated the completed cafeteria seating area from the section that was still under construction during a ceremony on Dec. 21.

Vernon JD Ziegler, Staff Writer

More than 100 students and faculty members gathered in the recently constructed atrium to participate in the ceremonial tearing down of a wall that marks the beginning of a new era in Madison College history.

Student Senate adviser Jackie Dahlke began the Dec. 21 event with a brief history of the construction project, which began in 2007. The Senate proposed a student union that would serve as the heart of student life at Madison College. Dahlke continued with a description of the planning and revisions required between the Student Senate, administration officials, and contractors in a process that covered ten years.  Later Dahlke reiterated the fact that many students have contributed to the success of this project and have moved on from Madison College during the intervening years that frequently inquire as to the progress of “their” project.

Anticipation grew as three golden sledge hammers were lined up and no less than 10 Student Senators gathered in front of the wall for the occasion. Cary Heyer, Director of Communications and Strategic Marketing, led a countdown with chants of “tear down the wall,” reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Student Senator and Vice President of Team Development Meshan Adams struck the first blow with unbridled gusto. As the golden sledge hammer penetrated the wall it promptly departed the hands of the surprised Senator and disappeared into the void beyond. Laughter and applause greeted the Senators’ stunned expression as his fellow Senators used the remaining two hammers to continue the demolition. The wall was well built, so event coordinators encouraged volunteers to “take a swing” in the demolition, which many did.

The crowd gazed beyond the ever-increasing opening. What began to be revealed were various venues undergoing the final touches by a very earnest Findorff construction crew. According to Mike Stark, Director of Facilities, the construction that is underway is part of a three-step project.

The first step included the culinary instruction kitchens (first and second year labs) and the baking and pastry arts space as well as several large conference rooms/meeting rooms. These areas opened in late August 2016 – just in time for the start of fall classes.

The second phase, which will be open for the first day of classes on Tuesday, Jan 17, features the food service kitchen and serving area (cafeteria space), a Starbucks coffee shop, retail outlets for the culinary instruction kitchens and the baking and pastry arts area, the WolfPack Den (pool tables and video games), culinary tasting room/conference room, chocolate and cake decorating lab, space and office areas for faculty and staff in the culinary and baking programs, as well as staff in auxiliary services (who manage and oversee food services or cafeteria).

Stark did not have a specific date of completion for the third phase, which will include Student Life offices and similar facilities, but believes that it will be completed sometime in the late spring/early summer of this year.  

Collectively known as the Atrium Café, the new space will comfortably seat 450 with a wide range of dining options including hand-crafted stone hearth pizzas, farm-to-table dishes, and an ever-changing selection of International choices for the diverse student body.

A full range of drinks from Starbucks will be available from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m., including gourmet ice cream and smoothies from the Gateway Café. A delicatessen, expanded salad bar, and a Friday fish fry will also be available.

With the opening of these grand accommodations, the Mitby Cafeteria will cease to exist and the WolfPack Athletics concession stand will only be open during athletic events as the student body begins new traditions of life centered on the student union.