Renovation continues on Denious Hall

Story by Katie Thurbon

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The staff and faculty at Baker University often speak of the lasting effect Baker has on all of its students.

This recently became even more apparent when Baker received nearly $200,000 from 1946 Baker graduate Janice von Riesen, and her husband David, to continue renovations on Denious Hall.

“I think this is demonstrative of the impact Baker can have on someone, even years later,” Chief Operating Officer Susan Lindahl said.

With the $196,491.23 that Baker received, the bottom floor of Denious, located just east of Irwin Hall and west of Pulliam Hall, will be turned into a welcome center for students, according to Director of Development Patrick Mikesic.

Though von Riesen died more than six months ago, her niece, Cindy Sorrick, was the executor of von Riesen’s estate and worked with University President Pat Long to find a good use for the money.

“Janice was very proud of Baker,” Sorrick said. “We just thought it would be a pretty cool thing to have the welcome center named after her.”

Lindahl said the university had been looking for a donor to help with Denious.

“We were given a couple other options, like replacing the seats in the (Rice) auditorium, but this just seemed more like Janice,” Sorrick said. “As a family, we thought this would be the neat thing to honor her.”

For now, the welcome center will house the admission and financial aid departments. In later years, the university is hoping to also move the offices from Constant Hall into the building as well.

“This is the start of a one-stop-shop for students,” Darla Prather, director of university budget and facilities, said.

Prather said the hope is to have the construction done by July 1 and move the admission and financial aid departments in over the summer.

Baker has hired a contractor to reconstruct the wing that runs from east to west, while the Baker maintenance staff will do the majority of the work on the north to south wing.

“The university has done a wonderful job diversifying who they’ve hired, so we have guys that can run our own electrical and do our own construction work,” Prather said. “We really have some talented folks on staff.”

Mark Bandré, vice president for enrollment management and student development, said the east to west wing would hold the financial aid department and the admission counselors, while the north to south wing would have the rest of the admissions staff, plus some conference rooms and storage.

“This one-stop-shop will have everything the students need in it,” Bandré said.