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Above: The Ruane Center for the Humanities
Below: Workers spread concrete for new walkways near Aquinas Hall.

New Building Projects, Campus Improvements Make for a Busy Summer

The classrooms may be quiet, but the Providence College campus is abuzz with construction activity for the fourth straight summer.

The Ruane Center for the Humanities, the signature academic building that has been under construction for more than a year between Phillips Memorial Library and the Albertus Magnus-Hickey-Sowa science complex, will be substantially complete on July 17 and will be open for classes in September.

The center, which will feature academic classrooms, faculty offices, and student meeting spaces, will be home to the Development of Western Civilization Program, Liberal Arts Honors Program, English and history departments, and the School of Arts & Sciences.

While workers apply the building’s finishing touches, some features are being created far from campus. Sylvia Nicolas, an artist from Mont Vernon, N.H., who designed the stained glass windows in St. Dominic Chapel, has been commissioned to create stained glass inserts for 18 windows in the Ruane Center’s two-story “Great Room.” Each insert will portray a historical figure who was key to the development of western civilization.

Nicolas also created a statue of St. Thomas Aquinas that will be displayed outside the center’s connector to the library. The statue is now at a foundry in Utah, according to John M. Sweeney, senior vice president for finance and business/CFO.

The Ruane Center will serve almost half the student population every day, Sweeney said. To better link the Ruane Center and its nearby academic buildings to student-service offices in and around the Slavin Center,  campus planners created the concept of a new “campus green.”

The green will unite the Slavin lawn with the Aquinas Hall quadrangle, expanding the Slavin lawn by a third, Sweeney said. The “sunny lawn” outside Slavin will link to the “shade lawn” on the quad in front of Aquinas Hall, which also will feature overlooks. The asphalt walkways to Aquinas Hall are being replaced by brushed concrete, and a turnaround will be created for access during move-in days.      

The expansion was accomplished by removing the road that ran from the Harkins gates past the Concannon Fitness Center and Lennon Field, a change that will reduce traffic and improve student safety, Sweeney said.

Drivers can still enter campus through the Phelan Gates at River Avenue and circle Harkins Hall. To reach Huxley Avenue, they are directed to drive behind the science complex, Ruane Center, library, and Martin Hall, and link with a road that runs alongside St. Dominic Chapel and out to the Dominican cemetery.

Athletic improvements

For the first time, the College’s successful track and cross country programs will have a home track on which to practice and compete. 

A track complex with artificial turf field, running track, and walking path is being built on the former Hendricken Field and is scheduled to open on September 1, Sweeney said. The field will be available primarily for student intramural and club sports teams, and the track can be used by faculty and staff.

September 16 will be the completion date for Schneider Arena, which has undergone a complete renovation that includes the construction of a three-story, 30,000-square-foot addition. It is the first full-scale renovation in the arena’s 40-year history.

While remaining home to the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, the arena now will include a locker room for lacrosse players, a strength and conditioning area, and a sports medicine area. The new entrance will improve visitor access and provide upgraded amenities. A new scoreboard, improved sound system, and seating for 3,000 are among the arena features. 

A big change for Dore Hall

Dore Hall won’t reopen as a residence hall in the fall. It’s slated to become the future home of the School of Business, with an architect to be chosen this summer for design of the renovated building.  The design process will last much of the academic year, Sweeney said.

Though the residence hall accommodated 110 students, an increase in the number of students studying abroad will leave enough rooms on campus for everyone, he added.

Bedford Hall is being renovated this summer as part of an eight-year plan to improve residence halls, Sweeney said. New roofs are being installed at the Slavin Center and Cunningham Hall, and new bioswales are being created outside the Ruane Center and the library. Improvements also are being made for the new art districts on East Campus.

It’s the fourth consecutive summer of major campus improvements, Sweeney noted. All the projects tie in closely with the College’s Strategic Plan and are supported by a multi-year financial plan, Sweeney said. They were undertaken during the summer, and on the edges of campus, to minimize disruption during the academic year.

“The projects are being funded by a combination of reallocated internal funds, bonds issued in 2012, and the generosity of many donors,” Sweeney said. “While the College is making this investment, it is also increasing student financial aid and trying to minimize increases in student fees. Providence College has had the lowest tuition increase over the past two years when compared to its top 10 ‘overlap’ schools.”

— Vicki-Ann Downing


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