ESCC renovations moving forward

Construction workers are currently gutting and remodeling Enterprise State Community College’s Forrester Hall, and the work is expected to be completed the first week of fall semester.

Renovations at Enterprise State Community College are moving along as scheduled according to ESCC Public Relations Director Stephen Schmidt.

They are focused on “student spaces.”

“All the remodeling and renovations we’re doing, they’re focused on benefiting our academic programs and creating spaces for our students,” Schmidt said. “Students want to have places to go to study or to be with like-minded people, and we want to help with that.”

Current areas being renovated at the Enterprise campus include the library, Forrester Hall, Wallace Hall and the Ray Lolley Gymnasium and Health Building.

Schmidt said workers are finishing up a project to turn the space into Boll Weevil Central -- an area that will house a smaller library, faculty offices, tutoring rooms and study rooms.

“We weren’t getting a lot of foot traffic (in the library),” said Schmidt. “Students would come to get books their professors wanted them to get, but other than that it wasn’t being used. People weren’t hanging out. That’s why this space was chosen for this effort.”

The addition of tutoring and advising rooms will open tutoring services up to more students. DaNean Pound, who will serve as tutoring director at Boll Weevil Central, said it is a service that students need.

“We finally have another means of student success at ESCC,” Pound said. “We have student support services, but now more students can get tutoring. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

Schmidt said student support services, a grant-funded program, has been offered in the past but required students to meet eligibility requirements. The additions will help ESCC offer tutoring to other students.

Meanwhile, renovations at Forrester Hall continue and are slated to be completed in the fall of 2019. The building houses fine arts programs, and it is being gutted and completely renovated to “make better use of space.”

Schmidt said the program, under the direction of Dr. Ken Thomas, has been growing in recent years and the new building will accommodate more students and give those students lounge spaces.

At the Ray Lolley Gymnasium and Health Building, a classroom has been renovated to serve as a lab space for students enrolled in ESCC’s Medical Assistant Technology program. Old furniture was updated and a sink, which took about six months to complete, was added to the classroom.

Schmidt said the timing of the renovations is “perfect” because the program -- created in Fall 2018 -- is entering a point where more advanced equipment is required.

Director of the MAT program, Melissa Rosenthal, said convenience has been a major bright spot of the renovations.

“Last semester we actually had to go the science building all the way across campus to do labs,” Rosenthal said. “No we have a theory room that we do our theory in, and this will be our lab. We’ll have phlebotomy, a doctor’s office and microscopes and other additions.”

In Wallace, three rooms are being converted into classrooms, two of which will house adult education programs and one that will serve as a computer information sciences classroom, equipped with computers.

ESCC Dean of Students Olivier Charles said the renovations are part of a larger plan to give the school more of a “college-feel” and be more welcoming for faculty and students.

Upcoming projects include updated bathrooms at Wallace Hall and a $1.9 million renovation of Sessions Hall, which will close in fall 2019. Sessions will be equipped with new lounge spaces, nooks and other areas.

“There are a lot of upgrades in terms of student friendliness,” Charles said. “We’re excited -- a lot of updates and a lot of things happening. We plan to have the small updates we’re doing here completed before fall classes start, but we’re asking for our students to be patient with us because we’re going to close another building (Sessions) and get it updated.”

Charles also said ESCC is “on the brink” of starting a quad project.

“We’re looking at designs next week,” he said. “Our goal is to make the quad more of a central focus of our campus. We want it to be a little bit more attractive to our students, so we’re looking at a centerpiece with a clock tower possibly and doing some seating around it and having our sidewalks congregate to that spot. The long term vision is there, but we have to take the steps to add one piece at a time.”

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