By Melissa Schill | Staff Writer
Wheaton College has nearly completed funding for planned renovations to the Student ServicesBuilding (SSB) to create a new space for the Center for Vocation and Career (CVC).
Once the $2 million project is financed, the SSB will undergo significant changes on the main level, with a projected completion in Dec. 2019.
The renovations are fully donor-funded. The bookstore will be moved to the north side of the building, and the CVC, currently on the second floor of the SSB, will be relocated to the bookstore’s current space.
According to Dee Pierce, director of the CVC, two main goals for this project are to make the CVC more “appealing
and convenient.” “We want this space to be welcoming and inviting to students,” Pierce said, “[a place] where they feel comfortable.”
A new diagonal indoor hallway will be created to connect the east entrance of the SSB, near Anderson Commons, with the west entrance by Williston Hall. The hallway will cut between the CVC and the bookstore.
“[The hallway] is a key improvement,” said Bruce Koenigsberg, the Wheaton College architect involved in the project. Students will now be able to walk through the building during the winter, giving the CVC more foot traffic due to its convenient location.
“I think the CVC program is very important to the college, and I’m excited to improve that facility,” Koenigsberg said. At a practical level, the relocation will also offer a much larger space for the CVC.
“Frankly, we just don’t have the physical space for the team we have, [and] we’re serving so many more students,” Pierce said.
Since Pierce’s arrival in 2016, the CVC has grown. Three years ago, their staff consisted of only five people. Now, there are 11, including five career coaches. Last year, the CVC engaged with 75 percent of Wheaton’s sophomores, juniors and seniors, compared with a national engagement level of 30 percent. “This is all due to the generosity of the people who are supporting what we’re doing,” Pierce said.
The new space will accommodate everyone who uses the CVC, with functional rooms and meeting areas. Soundproof rooms for video chats with potential employers and alumni will also be available, as well as a hospitality room, specifically for off-campus visitors passing through. Conference rooms and a large central space will also be added.
“We’ve done a lot of research [on] Gen Z and how you like to work and interact,” Pierce said. “What we have found is a lot of adaptability, a lot of nimbleness, a lot of collaborative work with each other — so, we’re creating multiple spaces, even in our lobby, for different kinds of engagement.”
According to Pierce, all design choices are centered around this research. “We’re just trying to be really mindful of what research tells us you like. This is being created with you in mind.”