College Plans Big Renovations for the Summer

mental health

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This summer, the college will break ground on a host of major renovation projects across campus for the first time since the onset of the recession.

The largest will be Worth Health Center, which is receiving a complete renovation — a “gut renovation,” according to Vice President for Facilities and Services Stu Hain. The demand for a growing repertoire of services, including mental health, has outstripped the capacity of Worth. Improvements will include a climate-controlled environment, larger spaces, rooms for private and group discussion and a larger window.

The renovated facilities will “bring the student health services into the modern age of college health,” said Beth Kotarski, director of Student Health Services. “It is going to change how we do business.”

The next-largest renovation is Parrish Hall, where the iconic domes will receive new shingles, replacing some dating back to 1882. In addition, the college will begin the process of installing a central air system, waning Parrish Hall off inefficient and aesthetically displeasing window units.

Lang Performing Arts Center will also undergo major renovations. It is closing down for the summer, as workers install a green roof — the largest on campus — which will provide better insulation, enhance rain water management, and offer students a new green space. The college intends to take advantage of  LPAC’s downtime to bring the site into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, vestibules will be added on both sides of Pearson Hall Theater, in order to reduce the disturbances of coming and leaving spectators during performances, and a new projection system will be installed in LPAC Cinema.

Hicks Hall and Papazian will finally undergo minor renovations, addressing departmental demands. In Papazian, a new lab will be erected on the roof to accommodate incoming Psychology faculty. Hicks will be outfitted with new labs and student spaces.

Both Hicks and Papazian are prime targets for the administration’s Campus Master Plan, a comprehensive long-term plan for how the physical campus can best support the college. The college has just begun the formulation process, and, over the course of the next year, they will be asking the community to contribute their input.

“The work this summer, in conjunction with the steps we have already taken towards the development of a new campus master plan, will ensure the college is poised to meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff for years to come,” said Hain.


  1. While these initiatives do not yet address the big-ticket renovation needs–Psychology, Engineering, Biology, Athletics, and especially McCabe–I’m still very happy to hear of these developments.

    The Health Center and CAPS aren’t as obvious a target, since they’re not really on the radar of alumni or prospective students, but improvement there can make a substantial difference in the lives of Swarthmore students, so I applaud that change. Similarly, selecting LPAC for the next green roof should noticeably help the erosion problem that building (and some others nearby) cause in the Crum, and of course ADA compliance is important as well. In making these decisions, the administration is demonstrating a willingness to make meaningful changes that aren’t major PR plays. Well done.

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