Supplementing changing policies and personnel on campus, Ely, a first-year residence building, will undergo significant remodels and renovations. This is the fourth installment in a series of articles highlighting recent changes and additions at William Jewell College.
The basement of Ely houses the Wellness Center and the Nurse Practitioner’s, Campus Safety and Facilities offices. A large building with prominent pillars and an impressive façade, Ely is also an integral fixture of the first-year triangle.
As a dorm, Ely has a reputation for its strong emphasis on community. Former residents can often be seen wearing “Fam-Ely” t-shirts. A popular first-year hang out space, Ely is known for its large lobby where students can almost always be found resting on one of the many oversized poufs or playing ping pong on one of the two available tables.
Ely is also known for its typically small rooms and burlap covered walls.
Caeley Pittman, sophomore physics and Oxbridge Literature and Theory major and former Ely resident commented on the unequal sizing of its rooms.
“Our room was one of the largest, so we were able to have friends over easily, but most of our friends had very small rooms. I think it would be very helpful if the room sizes were to be standardized a bit better such that some people don’t live in closets while others live in big rooms,” said Pittman.
This past summer a series of renovations were commissioned for Ely. Ernie Stufflebean, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, explained that they will focus on the Ely’s interior and the building’s aesthetic.
“[The Ely renovation plan is for] a lot of just basic cosmetic updates to the building, so, for example on the first and second floors we had gone through and put in new drop ceilings and LED lighting, so we need to get that updated on the third floor. We had also put in carpet on the first and second floor, and getting that updated on the third floor. Then, in the sleeping rooms we’re talking about more of a composite tile rather than carpet, kind of like we’ve done in other buildings that don’t have carpet in the rooms. The wall coverings that’re in Ely, talking about taking those out, replacing it with drywall and encasing some of the pipes that are exposed in rooms. Truly making it more aesthetically pleasing and then obviously repainting everything and getting it up to speed,” said Stufflebean.
This is the second major Ely renovation project in recent years. In the summer of 2016 the shower and restroom facilities were redone and new lighting was installed on the first and second floors.
This year’s project is being led by a committee of college personnel including Dr. Macleod Walls, President; Brian Clemons, Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer; Dr. Anne Dema, Provost; Drew Novak, Student Body President; and Stufflebean.
To finalize renovation plans, this committee is working with Gould Evans, an architecture and interior design company located in Kansas City. McCownGordon Construction, another KC company responsible for the construction of the Flint Hills Discovery Center and several renovations on Kansas State University’s campus, has been contracted to complete the Ely renovations.
These renovations are scheduled to occur throughout this academic year with the goal of reopening the Ely sleeping rooms in the fall of 2018. Until renovations are complete, Ely will be closed as a residence hall. Other building facilities, including the Wellness Center and the Nurse Practitioner’s office, will remain open for student use.
Stufflebean described the Ely renovation project as the first step in a long-term plan for the future of Jewell campus housing.
“We’re also starting a conversation, it’s a much larger conversation, basically putting together a plan for the future of campus housing at Jewell. Now, obviously, we have our Greek facilities, so this is talking more about our first-year residential triangle and then our upper-class triangle. So, it’s kind of more of a long term strategic planning process and we’re just getting it started, so it’s really in its infancy but it started just around making these changes to Ely and then it’s expanded into a much larger conversation, which will be ongoing,” said Stufflebean.
While there are not yet any concrete plans for renovations to residence halls other than Ely, campus officials are already engaged in conversations about this topic.
“There’s no timeline, there’s been nothing set as far as, you know, we don’t have dates or even ideas about what we want to do in other facilities, so that’s part of a much larger conversation from a master planning standpoint. So, there aren’t any definitive dates or anything like that set for any future work outside of Ely at this point. But, I think it’s good for us to sit down and have a conversation so that we have a plan in place as we move forward so that as we make improvements we have a master plan that guides that work,” said Stufflebean.
No budget has yet been set for either the Ely renovations or the larger campus housing project. Stufflebean predicted that this project will be quite expensive and that funding will be sought from donors as well as from Jewell’s own funds. As an example for this method of funding, Stufflebean cited the construction of Shumaker Hall, which was 95 percent funded by donations.
The Ely renovations and ongoing discussions about the future of campus housing are an effort to ensure Jewell’s continual improvement. An emphasis will be placed on completing the Ely renovations before the established fall 2018 reopening in order for the building to be used in prospective student tours.
“I think they are going to be starting here pretty quick. I think what they’re working on now is putting together the projection of cost and everything like that. The scope of the work that we’re intending to do in Ely can easily be done within the time frame that we’re trying to get it done. As a matter of fact, we want to be able to even potentially use the building to show incoming prospective students, especially this spring,” said Stufflebean.
Photos by Sofia Arthurs-Schoppe