By: Adi Vella
Dalton Hall is the second oldest building on the UPEI campus. Its origins date back to 1917 when it was built to serve as a residence. The building was constructed with the financial support of Sir Charles Dalton, a PEI-based businessman and politician. It underwent major renovations in 1972 to accommodate a need for classrooms and office space. And, as you may have noticed at the start of this term, Dalton Hall has been cordoned off because it is being worked on by teams of engineers and construction crews.
You might have wondered what precisely is happening to this building. As it turns out, Dalton Hall is undergoing major renovations to become what is being called the â€œStudent Experience Hubâ€ (SEH). The completed hub will house Student Affairs, Accessibility Services, Career Services, the Mawiâ€™Omi Centre, the Recruitment and International Relations Office, ESL Services, Co-op, the Registrarâ€™s office and the eHub.
According to a 2016 news release by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the renovation project is receiving $2.875 million each from the Government of Canada and Government of Prince Edward Island; the University is contributing an additional $409,900.
In a statement to The Cadre, UPEIâ€™s Director of Marketing and Communications Krista Grant said â€œthis renovation will take this beautiful heritage building into the 21st century and positively impact studentsâ€™ everyday experience,â€ adding that the building will also be energy efficient and have gender neutral washrooms.
Grant explained that the building is undergoing significant structural changes as part of the renovation. The building will be completely gutted, after which the buildingâ€™s interiors will be fully remodeled. The exterior will receive new windows and the foundation will be waterproofed as well.
Michael Ferguson, a student representative on the UPEI Board of Governors, said that a wheelchair ramp is being added to the exterior of the building and an elevator will also be installed.
â€œDalton [Hall] is a very important building to the history of our campus, and I’m excited to see it rejuvenated and serving a purpose that will benefit students at UPEI for years to come,â€ he said.
Treena Smith, Director of Student Affairs said the entire team at Student Affairs is excited to be moving to the soon-to-be-completed Dalton Hall as part of the UPEI’s new SEH.
â€œBy being under the same roof as our colleagues in Admissions, the Registrar’s office, Work Integrated Learning, and Career Services, we will be able to support students better by providing more seamless and collaborative program and service delivery,â€ she said. â€œAnd we’ll do so in an energy-efficient, modern, and welcoming environment that will encourage pathways for success and positively impact students’ everyday experience. We look forward to moving day.”
Cathy Gillan, Director of Work Integrated Learning & the English Language Centre, said the SEH will integrate fundamental supports from studentsâ€™ first contact right through to career transition, including advising, counselling, wellness, and front-line supports.
Gillan added that the eHub will â€œconnect students to comprehensible labour market information, provide competencies and skills training, and will link to the community or campus resource that best supports their goals.â€ Â Gillan says it will be a dynamic, welcoming space that Â will respect studentsâ€™ differing schedules by being open some evenings and weekends.
The SEH Â project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018.
Photo: Adi Vella