Old College Hall Has Some Shiny New Features

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Published October 18, 2020
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The Montclarion
Located at the front of campus, the newly renovated College Hall holds offices, Red Hawk Central, a Panera Bread and much more. Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

The wait for the reopening of College Hall will soon be over for the Montclair State University community. For nearly three years, many have wondered what is to come of the more than century-old building as it has endured renovations since closing in June of 2017.

College Hall was the school’s first building when it opened in 1908. It was home to a plethora of offices and classrooms, including a gym and a modern school library. The building also included study halls, locker rooms and lunchrooms. After its 109-year run, university officials decided that is was time for a makeover.

Belinda Bohrman, a sophomore English major, is eager to see what the new College Hall will look like and offer for students.

“I’m really eager to see what all of this time and construction and money have gone toward,” Bohrman said. “I’m really hoping that it’s something the entire student body can get at least some sort of use out of.”

The atrium is one of the main new additions to College Hall. Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

The atrium is one of the main new additions to College Hall.
Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

The new and improved College Hall will house all of the school’s academic offices, including the Red Hawk Central (RHC) one-stop team, which will serve to assist students with common problems or questions, like with financial aid and registration.

In addition to RHC, the building will house the departments of Student Development and Campus Life, the Center for Leadership and Engagement, University College, the Dean of Students and many others.

Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

The offices to many university departments will be located within College Hall. They are currently fitted with safety precautions to protect students and faculty from the dangers of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

Montclair State President Susan A. Cole has emphasized that College Hall will be a space for students.

“All the students’ services are going to be centralized in this building and there’s [a] terrific student lounge space,” Cole said. “There is such great space for students in this building.”

Although the shiny new additions may be the first thing to catch the eye of a passerby, there still remain lingering hints of the building’s history. Throughout the hall, there are traces of exposed brick, wide hallways and some of the original stained glass. The 200-year-old mission bell also remains at the top of the hall.

The renovated College Hall will also features a gender-neutral bathroom, lounge areas for students and a nursing room.

Bohrman enjoys the fact that the some of the original architecture remains.

“I think the old architecture adds a sense of authenticity to a lot of the buildings,” Bohrman said. “It’s part of the reason I decided to come [to Montclair State] in the first place.”

Panera Bread is located on the lower floor of College Hall. Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

Panera Bread is located on the lower floor of College Hall.
Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

In addition to offices and lounges, College Hall will also welcome a brand new Panera Bread to campus. The eatery is bringing new dining choices for the students and staff, as it features vegan and gluten-free options for people with varying lifestyle and dietary preferences.

The Panera Bread is not set to open until January, since the grand reveal of the College Hall is set too close to the end of the current semester. It will come one year after the introduction of Jersey Mike’s in Blanton Hall.

Karen Pennington, vice president for student development and campus life, stated that they plan on turning the old Au Bon Pain in Sprague Library into a new and improved study lounge.

“We are not going to replace [Au Bon Pain] right now. The idea is that we will turn that [space] into more of a high-end study lounge area for students, with some high-end vending machines,” Pennington said. “There are all new, different kind of vending machine possibilities, with salads, fresh foods and all kinds of things, so [we are] exploring what possibilities are [available] for different types of vending that we didn’t have in the past. Again, for something different for students, a different menu, a different opportunity.”

A new walkway that leads from the entrance of College Hall to Alexander Kasser Theater is lined with lights. Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

A new walkway leads from the entrance of College Hall to Alexander Kasser Theater.
Photo courtesy of Bernice Ndegwa

Ciara Collins, a sophomore visual communication design major, is also ready for the reopening of College Hall.

“I feel pretty excited about it,” Collins said. “I think it’s a nice change and it looks like a great new facility.

While there is no official opening date for College Hall, university officials plan to have its doors open by the end of the month.

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