Shiny copper roof flashing and grand white–mullioned windows signaled the buttoning-up of Benton Hall’s exterior just as early winter snowfalls began to blanket the campus.
When it opens in July 2018, Benton Hall will stand as a best-in-class career center — and then some. It’s part of a current $60 million building investment to enhance the Colgate student experience in both residential life and career preparation.
“There are few, if any, campuses building a stand-alone career center,” said Mike Sciola, associate vice president of institutional advancement and career initiatives. The 18,500 square-foot building will move a department that served nearly 2,600 students last year in Spear House — which was built in the early 19th century — to a structure specifically designed to be the catalyst for the university’s 21st-century, comprehensive career development operation.
Since 2012, Colgate has greatly expanded its career development offerings for students, from pre-matriculation through senior year and beyond.
Programming is aimed at connecting students’ academic and career interests with opportunities for gaining practical and entrepreneurial skills, career exploration, internships, and jobs. In 2016-17, more than 97 percent of the student body participated in career services appointments, events, workshops, and signature programs. The department has also seen a nearly fivefold increase in employer visits over the past five years.
With welcoming entrances from both the Academic Quad and Oak Drive, Benton Hall will allow Colgate to provide seamless postgraduate exploration and planning by bringing together the Center for Career Services, the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships, and the Thought Into Action entrepreneurship program’s administrative office under one roof.
The building features suites for advising, employer relations, and interviews; reception areas; and administrative offices. And with flexible public areas such as a large “career commons” and a seminar room, Benton Hall will serve as a hub for activities like networking events, information sessions, and entrepreneur team workshops — as well as academic classes, seminars, lectures, exhibitions, and performances. Ten spaces will have video conference capabilities, “so we will be able to connect with alumni from all over the world to interface with our students in real time,” said Sciola.
“The vision for the program was to offer our students what the world will demand for career success in the 21st century,” said Sciola. “Benton Hall came out of the fact that we needed a facility that offered the flexibility and advanced technology to achieve what our graduates will need.”
The $16.4 million-dollar, 100 percent donor-funded building, which is named for Colgate Trustee Dan Benton ’80, P’10, H’10, was designed by R.M. Stern Architects, one of the world’s top academic architectural design firms, adhering to LEED Silver sustainability standards. Romanesque exterior touches will reflect architectural features from both Hascall and James B. Colgate halls.
Meanwhile, farther up the hill and a bit further out on the construction timeline, two new residence halls have begun to take shape above Stillman, Andrews, and O’Connor Campus Center. Opening in 2019, the halls will foster the living-learning and community-building experience among first-years and sophomores that are hallmarks of the Residential Commons program. Each 100-bed facility will feature not only places for students to sleep and socialize, but also seminar rooms, classrooms, offices, and study spaces.
To be constructed of native stone and totaling nearly 85,000 square feet, the halls will reflect Colgate’s historic architectural vernacular, and their placement will create an additional gathering quad.