Campus Updates Elevate Student Learning, Dining Experiences, and More

Emily Barrett, assistant director of communications
An interior shot of the new Freshens Food Kitchen
Freshens Food Kitchen in Freedom Hall is one of the latest updates that students, faculty and staff can enjoy starting this fall.

As students return to campus for the first full in-person semester in over a year, they will have the opportunity to experience updates and additions made to academic and dining facilities. 

During the spring and summer months the university completed a series of capital projects that further invest in the Widener student experience, with a focus on accessibility and flexibility. 

“The pandemic required the university to temporarily suspend facility renovations and updates, but this summer we are continuing to move forward on our vision to elevate the ways students are able to interact on campus both academically and socially,” said Linda Gilbert, vice president of Administration & Finance. “These most recent renovations re-imaged and optimized existing infrastructure which allow us to make a positive impact on the student’s time on campus.”

Part one of a two-phase renovation was completed in Academic Center North (ACN) to optimize classrooms and designate administrative space on the first floor. Select classrooms have been renovated to increase flexibility and provide power to seats for charging mobile devices. 

Construction in ACN will turn next to renovating space specifically for the expanding health and human service programs. Phase two, which is slated to be complete by June 2022, will construct a state-of-the-art anatomy lab, additional lab and classroom space, and student touchdown space for programs such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more. 

This month Widener Dining will unveil the latest additions to campus eateries. Following the arrival of Starbucks and the Good Uncle on-demand food delivery service, this fall MacMorland Commons will offer two new dining options with the arrival of Tenders, Love & Chicken and Bento Sushi. Freedom Hall will also feature Freshens Fresh Food Kitchen, a one-stop-shop serving healthy chef-created options including rice bowls, clean smoothies, grilled flatbreads, and flavorful salads.

Renovations to the Kapelski Learning Center have continued with the latest changes impacting both student and faculty spaces. Updates aimed to optimize existing physical space, the most recent updates converted a tiered fixed seating classroom to an accessible flexible, or flex, classroom to accommodate various program and course needs. Additionally, new classrooms were constructed on the second and third floors.

According to Kevin Kane, executive director of Facilities Management, the flex classroom offers “seating technology that will provide more flexibility for how the instructor wants to present the material or have the students work in groups.”

Whereas traditional classrooms consist of a fixed seating format, the newly renovated flex classrooms are equipped with adjustable seating and tables and floor-mounted power stanchions which will allow for faculty and students to arrange the space to fit the needs of different courses and disciplines that use the space. 

Additional projects include:

  • The Math Department and Math Center have been relocated to the ground floor of the Kapelski Learning Center in the former Center for Graduate and Continuing Studies suite.
  • The Center for Graduate and Continuing Studies moved to renovated space in Hyatt Hall. 
  • Resident rooms in Howell Hall have been updated with a building-wide air conditioning system. 

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