RIO GRANDE — The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College hosted local, state and regional dignitaries as it celebrated the 40th anniversary of the community college Aug. 15 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to reopen Robert S. Wood Hall.
Since the University of Rio Grande forged its partnership with Rio Grande Community College in 1974, 12,756 degrees have been awarded with 5,265 of them associate’s degrees. An additional 266 certificates also have been awarded.
Wood Hall has served as the epicenter of education for many of those degrees since it opened in 1988. Thanks to $3.5 million in state capital money, the 37,957-square-foot facility will continue to serve the students of southeastern Ohio and the region. The renovation project included a new student lounge, computer lab, conference rooms, psychology and social work observation studios, a faculty lounge and study, new furniture, new roofing, a new heating and cooling system, a new family restroom and a host of other bells and whistles.
“It looks a lot better, hands down,” Rio Grande senior Kassandra Mosher said. “Its something we can take pride and ownership in. It has a more inviting feel, a little warmer. I like the lounge with the laptop bar because I’m one of those students who carts my laptop around campus.”
Mosher was one of several student ambassadors providing guided tours to guests following the ribbon cutting.
Countless contributors were thanked throughout the ceremony, including Rio Grande faculty, staff and students, as well as local, regional and state dignitaries, from county commissioners to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“It was really important to use at the end of this project that we have some wow factor,” said Rebecca Long, vice president of administration for RGCC. “I think that we were very successful in doing so. There is state-of-the-art technology throughout the building.”
The ceremony also included comments from community college Board Chair Shawn Saunders, university Board Chair Jack Finch and Higher Learning Commission President Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley. The Wood Hall renovation stemmed from the Decade of Dreams strategic plan and Campus Master Plan, both of which were crafted under the leadership of Gellman-Danley, who served as Rio Grande president before taking over the HLC in July.
“I’m pleased to bring greetings from the Higher Learning Commission,” Gellman-Danley said. “Kudos to Gov. John Kasich for his collaborative process for state capital dollars. The students of Rio Grande will be the benefactor for decades.”
The evening also included proclamations from the state of Ohio, signed by Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, and the state Treasurer Josh Mandel.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by student-guided tours of Wood Hall and a catered reception that included the Rio Grande Jazz Ensemble and a showcase of student artwork.
“Rio Grande Community College gives students from some of the most impoverished counties in the state an opportunity to gain an education,” Long said. “We change people’s lives and I think it’s important we remember that. So today we’re celebrating Wood Hall and what we mean to our entire community.”
For more information about the University of Rio Grande visit rio.edu or call 800-282-7201.
Eric McKinney is director of communications at the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College.