This winter construction crews at Pacific Union College put the finishing touches on a renovation of the campus’s dining commons and campus center. This facility, a major hub of student life, hasn’t been updated in 30 years. This update is the first of a wave of improvements around campus as President Heather J. Knight seeks to transform the college into a shining example of modern higher education.
“PUC is going to become a great college,” says Knight. “When I think about our campus going from good to great, I’m including every area of campus, including our facilities. My vision is that within the next several years the entire campus will be transformed.”
The new design incorporates Napa Valley style, a rustic yet contemporary aesthetic based on open spaces and natural materials like wood and stone. Project architect Jarrod Denton, a PUC alumnus, replaced the basic tables and chairs of the dining commons seating area with several unique and inviting sections, including rows of booths, raised pub-style tables, and an informal lounge furnished with sofas. The serving area was also reworked to improve students’ access to the food and reduce congestion during busy meal times.
The campus center, which serves as the recreational heart of PUC and the home of the student association offices, received a new professional-grade food and drink preparation area and a small convenience store. Walls were knocked down to expand the area, and all the furniture was replaced to give the space the fresh and modern feel of a smoothie bar. New paint and flooring was applied throughout the whole facility, matching the dining commons and campus center with a common visual theme.
The students have overwhelmingly approved the changes to the facility. “I like the new layout of the food area, and the booths are a real nice touch!” says junior exercise science major Uzzie Barba.
“It creates a much more inviting space for the students to enjoy,” says senior history major Eirene-Gin Nakamura. “Aesthetically, it’s just much better,” agrees senior communication and theology major Aren Rennacker.
But the renovation is about more than just boosting morale. Knight believes that PUC’s special mission as a Christian institution holds the college to a special standard. “The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy enjoin us to be ‘the head and not the tail,’" she says. “We are called to a really high level of excellence based on the exceeding excellence of God Himself. Therefore, we have an important role to play as pacesetters and models of best practices in higher education." At PUC even the simple question of where students take their meals and study breaks receives that kind of attention.