The ribbon cutting ceremony for the South Village took place Friday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. at Centennial Drive outdoor entrance. The ceremony featured keynote speeches, a performance by the Marauder Men’s Glee Club performance, tours and refreshments.
Those in attendance included: President Anderson, Dr. Aminta Hawkins Breaux (Vice President of Advancement), Michelle Perez (Interim Vice President of Student Affairs), Steve DiGuiseppei (Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Interim Director of Alumni Engagement), Former President Francine McNairy, mayor of Millersville Richard Moriarty, Senator Lloyd Smucker and current resident assistants of the South Side Suites.
Randi Chrismer, current Student Senate president and Sarah Darling-Dillon, former Student Senate president cut the ribbon.
First to speak was Geoffrey Beers CEO and General Manager of Student Services Inc. Beers joked of 104 degree heat for first opening of new residence halls. He emphasized the academic aspect of the new residence halls.
He went on to thank partners of Millersville for the project’s completion. Partners of the university are Student Services Inc., Ambling University Development Group, Benchmark Construction Company Inc., Lord Aeck Sargent Architecture, RBC Capital Markets, Richard F. Mulá, Dawood Engineers, Planners and Surveyors.
The next speaker was Darling-Dillon. Darling-Dillon explained that the Student Memorial Center was new when she was attending Millersville. “It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the past few years,” she said.
Darling-Dillon spoke of the importance of updated housing for Millersville students. “It completely matters where our students lay their heads at night,” she said.
Chrismer followed her predecessor in speaking. She was an orientation leader this year and explained Transition Programs, responsible for orientation, stressed wording when training the orientation leaders. They were told not to say dormitories; they are residence halls. Chrismer recalls when preparing for college she searched for “dorm” decorating ideas.
“I finally understood it when I toured the new suites,” Chrismer said.
Third to speak was Michael Warfel of Ambling University Development Group. Warfel is an alumnus who graduated in 1984. He talked of the 99% of occupancy of the South Suites.
Perez spoke of the amenities offered to students. The new residence hall is a 709 bed facility with semi suites ranging to private suites. The construction company worked with the natural topography. The central meeting place is meant to remain in the quad.
Jeremy Doss, vice president of Ambling University Development Group, spoke of how far the project has come. With 63 campus developments under their belt, Ambling was able to turn a parking lot into the South Side Suites.
“Competitors said it couldn’t be done,” Doss said.
Ambling hoped to stick to the hallmarks of quality, efficiency and student engagement.
Michael Callahan, president of Benchmark Construction Company Inc., is an alumnus who graduated in 1981. Callahan spoke of his experience taking thirteen alumni to revisit the campus. “You think it’s tough for you to stop saying dorms, I’ve been saying for 45 years,” Callahan said, referring to Chrismer’s speech.
Callahan went on to speak of how the students perceive the new residence hall. “We don’t really see these many wholesome successes,” Callahan said.
Last to speak was President Anderson. When he was considering taking the position of president, he was asked of possible improvements to the university. Anderson said that the housing needed to be updated. Then it was revealed that a plan was already in preparation. He paid homage to McNairy for getting the ball rolling. Anderson assured the crowd that the university is on schedule for phase 2 and 3.
Anderson called up Callahan again to present the name of the wing in the South Village. The wing will be named Benchmark.