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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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Residence Hall updates announced

Taylor announced new residence hall updates during chapel on Apr. 26. 

These improvements are projected for completion during the summer and will become available to students in fall 2024.

Breuninger and Gerig Hall(s) will receive hammock stands. Wengatz, Wolgemuth and Campbell Hall(s) will receive water bottle filler drinking fountains. The fireplace in Olson Hall will be fixed. Swallow Robin will receive updated decorations for the lobby. English Hall will receive a set of Adirondack chairs. Samuel Morris Hall will receive a sound bar for the lobby television and a fire pit for the patio. Bergwall Hall will receive two fire pits. 

The initiative to bring the new fixtures to campus was spearheaded by Brad Yordy, director of alumni and parent relations. Yordy wanted to take into account what students wanted for their halls. He shared the idea with Julia Hurlow, associate vice president for student development and director of residence life, who then took action in executing the plan.

Prior to Yordy’s ideas, Student Development has conducted an internal assessment of all residence halls in the 2022-23 school year.” Students gave feedback to Personnel Assistants and hall directors to assess practical items students wanted. 

Later, when Yordy approached Hurlow, Hurlow assessed which items would be the most practical and useful for students based on the student feedback.

Part of the TUGather weekend, when these updates were announced, was an effort to make students understand the Life to the Full campaign and how it would benefit them, Yordy said.

“The announcements on Friday, while not huge buildings, was our effort to say, ‘Here's some small examples of things that are happening,’” Yordy said. “The students have heard big numbers and heard about projects [and] large gifts, but the campaign is not just about money, it's all for the student impact.”

Residence hall improvements were funded by the Taylor Thrives strategic plan. In the beginning stages of the initiative, the plan was to announce a $175 million campaign as that was the amount that was feasible at the time, Yordy explained. 

After increased and unanticipated donations, the campaign ultimately reached a $500 million goal, which breaks down into $425 million of philanthropic fundraising and $75 million of public and private investment for the town of Upland. 

Although this amount still doesn’t fully fund the strategic plan, it shows that donors believe in what is happening at Taylor, Yordy said. 

Diana Verhagen, Olson Hall director, said the fireplace in the Olson Hall lobby was first installed in the 70s. During her time as a Hall Director and student, the fireplace has never functioned. 

“Due to high student numbers, lounges on each individual wing [were converted] into three-man rooms,” Verhagen said. “Our center lounge is the only gathering place and all of Olson besides hallways, so [the lobby is] very highly utilized because of that. Anytime you want to gather with more than two or three people in your room, it's where you go.”

MacKenzie Bedor, English Hall director, hopes students use the new Adirondack chairs to spend time with one another. 

One of the goals of the new residence hall updates, she said, was to foster more communal gathering spaces for students.

“My hope with [the chairs] is that there will be more people that have spaces outside and just talk, do homework, have coffee or things like that,” Bedor said. “We have two picnic tables for English, and it's hard to spend time with each other if you don't want to sit in the grass with just those two picnic tables.”

Bedor believes these additions will increase student interest in the campaign and let them know that Taylor cares about them and their desires for the future, she said.

“This campaign, it's all for student impact — if [people perceive] it's just about the dollars or just about the buildings that are constructed, we've not done our job,” Yordy said. “We've got to help inform [students] as to the why, the student impact, the heartbeat of it and what Taylor is — we truly are Christ-centered, student-focused.”