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JSC Celebrates Grand Opening of Stearns Student Center

JSC Celebrates Grand Opening of Stearns Student Center

October 30, 2008

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, VSC trustees and other community members gathered on a chilly late fall afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the newly renovated Stearns Student Center, the first new building on the JSC campus since 1996. In her opening remarks, President Barbara Murphy remarked that “it takes a village to build a student center,” thanking the VSC board for its support of the project and the JSC students, faculty and staff for their patience during the campus disruption. She also noted that the project employed 150 Vermonters, with the overwhelming majority of the companies partnering with the college in the project based in Vermont.

After brief remarks by a VSC board member Gary Moore, JSC alumna Susan Bartlett, JSC student Toni Little and a representative of Senator Patrick Leahy, the official ribbon cutting took place and celebrants were invited in to the student center for refreshments and tours of the facility. Attendees also enjoyed musical performances and a slide show documenting the transformation of the faciltity.

A $7 million renovation has transformed Stearns Hall into a hub of student life on campus, with a variety of new services and recreational and social opportunities for students. The building houses the college dining hall; WJSC, the college’s radio station; a post office; women’s center; student government association offices; and a conference room. New spaces within the student center that are designed to improve student life include a café, a small performing arts theater, a movie theater, a TV and video lounge, a gaming room, and a new fireplace lounge.

Art within the new student center will be selected from the work of JSC faculty, students in the college’s Master of Fine Arts program, and visiting artists at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson. Many of the exhibits in Stearns will rotate throughout the year. Emerging British-born artist, Gowri Savoor ( and long-time faculty member, Ken Leslie, kick off this initiative to merge arts, culture, and community in Stearns.

As part of its mission of environmental sustainability, the college worked with architects Freeman French Freeman and contractors DEW Construction to ensure the new student center is environmentally sensitive. Examples of environmentally responsible construction include: certified sustainable flooring; low-emission carpeting, vinyl tile, and rubber flooring; and safe plastic laminate countertops. Paints, wall coverings and fabrics were also chosen for their air-quality standards. During construction, the college recycled more than 30 tons of metal, recovered clean wood, demolished concrete, plexiglass panels, and furniture.

Financial donors to the college have had the opportunity to invest in the facility through naming opportunities that are currently a part of JSC’s first comprehensive major gifts campaign. To date, the college has received commitments for more than $45,000 in gifts to the new student center. Discussions with alumni and friends of the college continue.

Preparations for the renovation began in late 2007, and construction on the building started in mid-March 2008. Approval for the renovation came from the Vermont State Colleges’ board of trustees in October 2007. The project was finished on budget and on schedule.