Plans for Coates renovations near completion


illustration by Andrea Nebhut, staff illustrator

Trinity will soon begin renovating Coates University Center in a collaborative effort involving many different Trinity offices, including Student Involvement and Counseling Services. The renovations start over spring break and will continue through the summer.

The bookstore will move to the lobby area near the Commons, while Counseling Services will move to where Student Involvement is located now.

Alli Roman, director of Diversity and Inclusion, is currently working from a single office inside Student Involvement. With the new renovation, and following her recent hiring of several student workers, Diversity and Inclusion will have its own office space.

Both departments will be found in what is currently the first floor of the campus bookstore. The Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success (CELCS) will be located on the second floor of the building, above the current Student Involvement office.

Jamie Thompson, director of Student Involvement, emphasized that the main goals of the plan are connected to CELCS’s larger goals.

“The project is connected to several different things: one, the Trinity Tomorrow Strategic Plan. The Trinity Tomorrow Strategic Plan calls for certain things that the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Success needs to do and accomplish,” Thompson said. “They need interview rooms for more employers, they need all of their staff in one place. Right now, their staff is displaced across the Coates University Center. So part of what the renovation is doing is fulfilling a piece of the Trinity Tomorrow Strategic Plan.”

The renovations will bring many student services and resources closer to the center of campus.

The renovation also brings Counseling Services back to Coates,” Thompson said. “What we’re doing is creating a kind of student hub in Coates.”

Before Counseling Services was temporarily moved to Halsell in 2015 so that CELCS could expand, it had been located in Coates since 1987. David Tuttle, dean of students, advocated for the move back to Coates; he hopes it will make it easier for students to access those resources.

Gary Neal, the director of Counseling and Health Services, also says that this move to Coates will benefit students, especially in terms of convenience.

“We will be very centrally located, closer to other student development offices like CELCS, closer to dean Tuttle when we make referrals to him,” Neal said. “I think it’s going to be a great thing for students. … We’ll have less storage space, but we’ll be gaining at least one individual office, which is good because we’ve gained an additional counseling staff member.”

Counseling Services will use the new space to create a room where students can go to relax.

“Part of our plan is what we’re calling an ‘oasis room,’ which will be a quiet, one-person space for students who just need a place to get away for a few minutes,” Neal said. “We may, depending on the budget, be able to get a massage chair. We’ll try to make it as available as possible for students who want to drop in.”

Few current students were on campus when the mail room, currently located in the Tiger’s Den, was located where the Coates lobby now resides, outside the Commons. The bookstore is planned to move into that area, taking some space away from the public lobby but mostly fitting in a space partitioned away by the lobby’s back wall.

Susie Juvera, manager of the Trinity bookstore, wrote about the bookstore’s optimistic attitude towards the move in an email interview.

“We are incredibly excited to move the Trinity University bookstore to its new location on the first floor of the Coates University Center. We will now be located next door to the Commons, which will allow students to stop by the store before or after their meals, and as they make their way through the Coates University Center each day,” Juvera wrote. “While our previous location saw great student engagement, we believe the convenience of our new location will bring even more students and faculty into our store to browse and shop for their course materials, school spirit wear and more.”

Students returning from spring break will discover that the first phase of the renovation project is underway. The lobby area near the Commons will be under maintenance to make the changes needed so that the bookstore can move to that area. The CUC office will also be under construction.

Chinyere Stallworth, Coates coordinator, spoke about the changes that will be made to the Coates office.

“The goal of the changes to the office is just to open it up more. This is the place where students and guests can come to find out information, so I think they’re going to open us up more so that we’re more front and center,” Stallworth said.

Students who have questions about the renovations can contact Jamie Thompson at [email protected].