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Re-thinking Reade Center

Students determine the character of their new lounge

By Annabelle Blair | Echo

Reade Memorial Liberal Arts Center introduced its student lounge, located inside the west door, at the start of the semester with free coffee, hors d’oeuvres and spiced chai.

The project began last year when program offices (then located in the lounge space) prepared to move to the LaRita R. Boren

Campus Center. Reade Center departmental faculty collaborated to convert the vacant space into a friendly gathering spot.

Reclaimed furniture adds to the vibe in Reade Center’s new student lounge (Photo by Naomi Page).

Reclaimed furniture adds to the vibe in Reade Center’s new student lounge. (Photo by Naomi Page)

Jody Hirschy, associate professor of marketing and chair of the business department, initiated the project toward the end of spring semester. Ron Sutherland, vice president of business administration, and Michael Hammond, academic dean of the school of humanities, arts and biblical studies, met to discuss, approve and shape the idea.

During the summer, several faculty worked to put the lounge together. This included tagging furniture from the old Student Union and choosing photos and pieces from Taylor’s art department’s collection to liven the atmosphere and engage students.

As program assistant for the business department for 31 years, Nancy Gillespie is glad students no longer have to study on crowded benches in busy hallways, balancing laptops and study material on their laps. “Other buildings have common areas for students to hang out,” Gillespie said, “but Reade’s never had anything like that.”

However, using the space as a student lounge is only a short-term goal. Hammond said the long-term goal includes converting the space into needed classrooms, although the development is a few years away. When the change occurs, Hammond hopes some aspect of the lounge will be preserved.

Currently, Hammond supports the lounge’s ability to meet student needs of relaxation, homework collaboration and unhampered discussion—ranging from serious DTRs to casual hangouts.

A photograph from Taylor’s art department basement finds a new home on the lounge’s wall (photo by Naomi Page).

A photograph from Taylor’s art department basement finds a new home on the lounge’s wall. (Photo by Naomi Page)

“I kind of joke that (Reade is) the hipster building on campus,” Hammond said. “It’s got the retro vibe . . . and repurposed furniture now. (The lounge is) going to develop its own character, I think . . . . And that’s what we hope; we’re not going to do a lot to define what it looks like other than what it is now.”

Danielle Spoutz (‘16), graduate assistant for the business department, was tasked with marketing the new student lounge and managing details, including artwork yet to be hung. She tried to create a homey space, suitable to student needs, which she hopes students will enjoy well.

During her time as an undergraduate student at Taylor, Spoutz said the majority of her classes were in Reade Center and she thought the lounge was something she would’ve appreciated using.

Junior Jessica Nesselrodt said she was hesitant to enter the lounge during the hubbub surrounding its initial launch the past couple weeks. Since traffic has slowed down, however, she wandered in between classes and discovered the lounge to be a quiet niche for reading.

Sutherland said the faculty involved in the process are eager to see how the the student lounge will encourage educational and community growth in the lives of both students and faculty.

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