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Welcome center prepares to open

Metzger boasts new features after relocation and renovation.   |   Caroline Sommers/THE CHIMES

 

Facilities management has projected the renovated admissions welcome center to open in late March at its new location in Metzger Middle West after months of planning and preparation.

Months of Preparation

In 2014, a task force evaluated the suitability of several locations on campus for a welcome center. The task force examined the library, Talbot East and other sites as candidates before administration selected Metzger Middle West, bordering its former location in the main Metzger lobby.

The task force also visited the welcome centers of other universities. The presence of the facilities at other campuses played a major part in administration’s decision to construct one for Biola.

“Most universities have a standalone welcome center that’s sole purpose is to welcome prospective students to the campus, and our main lobby in Metzger really was our welcome center, which wasn’t very welcoming,” said Brian Phillips, senior director of facilities management.

A standalone space

There were multiple aspects of the Metzger lobby which were unwelcoming towards guests, according to Carla Tipton, assistant director of campus visits and member of the task force. Because staff often walk through the lobby, Tipton said, prospective students and their families may have felt in the way of staff.

“Families need to know that we’ve created this space specifically for them. It was kind of disheartening at times to see families come here and feel as though they were an imposition to the functions of Biola University,” Tipton said.

In order to create additional office space, various departments around campus began moving their locations approximately a year and a half ago. This process began with the move of the Humanities department to Emerson Hall, and ended with the move of Financial Aid to Metzger Middle East.

Gratitude and enthusiasm

The new center, which began renovations in December 2016, will feature a furnished waiting area and a presentation room with a 90-inch monitor. The waiting room will be located adjacent to the admissions department, allowing counselors to more easily meet with prospective students. An Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant wheelchair ramp has also been installed to improve accessibility.

The welcome center will also have an olive tree theme, with an olive tree planted outside and milled olive tree wood present in the lobby. According to Ken Campbell, manager of campus planning and design, the theme reflects Biola’s biblical and historical heritage.

“We have biblical roots that that is a symbol of in Jerusalem,” Campbell said. “This was an olive grove before it was Biola... the whole place was an olive grove. So we have biblical roots, historical roots and then, you know, putting that into the center and development of that.”

As the opening of the welcome center approaches, Tipton looks to the future with gratitude and enthusiasm.

“I’ve been here for 15 years and… there’s hardly words to say,” Tipton said. “Just grateful to God and Dr. Corey, that they recognized this need and that God provided the funds. So, so excited to feel as though we are now properly and effectively going to serve families.”

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