Facilities to aid student life

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, April 20, 2017

Substantial completion of construction on a new student center and renovations of the existing fine arts facility at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) is scheduled for early spring, according to school officials, and both facilities are expected to greatly enhance student life.

Dean of Students Dr. Robert Sabbatini said the college is looking to have both buildings “online for fall of 2017.”

The school broke ground on the Brown Student Center on Feb. 6, 2016. H-SC Marketing and Communications Director Gordon Neal said construction of the center is costing $11 million and the facility will provide a central location for student services and activities, as well as common spaces for casual interaction and socializing.

“The building will house the offices of Students Affairs, the Student Court, Student Government, Career Education, as well as the post office and Tiger Inn,” Neal said. “There are also spaces for student clubs and organizations and gathering spaces.”

Dr. Robert Sabbatini

In a previous interview, Sabbatini said that as dean of students, he would like “very much to expand student life and the campus life here at Hampden-Sydney.”

On Wednesday, he noted that “with that student center, I really believe it’ll show student life at its best.”

He said it will give H-SC a space to hold a variety of programming, ranging from the educational to the social, and a combination of the two.

“Career Services is also located there, our post office, and the center for entrepreneurial leadership will also be there,” Sabbatini said. “So, those offices alone … are going to create that natural gathering space, and we’re looking for 24/7 access for students, as well.”

The dean pointed out that having a social space like the student center will develop students’ leadership skills further both through training classes and a variety of organizational opportunities that will allow them to use their leadership skills.

“There’s actually two student organizational rooms that student clubs can reserve, hang out in,” Sabbatini said. “(They) should both be very nice places. There’s also a formal living room for a natural gathering space. (There) should be Ping-Pong tables, billiards tables, all that alike.”

He also highlighted the Tiger Inn, a restaurant, as another natural gathering space.

He added that a restaurant already exists on campus that will be replaced by the Tiger Inn, and “looking at (the Tiger Inn) space compared to the old one, I think the students, faculty, staff, alumni are really going to respond favorably to it. It’s got a fresh look, a great look to it. That will really be a ‘wow’ factor for us.”

What kind of food will be offered is still being considered, Sabbatini said.

“I think they’re trying different selections already and see(ing) what kind of menu they can put together,” he said. “Specifically with that, our food committee, which is comprised of students, have been working with them and setting this whole thing up.”

H-SC’s fine arts facility, currently named Winston Hall, is across the street from the student center. Neal said it “is undergoing a complete interior renovation, which will provide significant improvements to studio, laboratory and instruction spaces, including replacing and improving building systems.”

He noted that upon completion of the $4.7 million renovations, the building will be renamed Brinkley Hall and will house the Joe Viar and Bonnie Christ Center for the Arts.

Sabbatini looks forward to how the facility, in tandem with the student center, will contribute to student life.

“There’s a nice area in the student center that we can display student artwork — any innovation that they have there — and it’s very nice that (the facilities are) right across the street from each other, so there can be that collaboration and that connection between student life and the classroom, which I think is so important.”