Editorial: WoW is right when it comes to SMC’s McKenzie Hall, SAC

Published 8:44 am Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday, Aug. 17, 2009

Southwestern Michigan College students who will be living in Keith H. McKenzie Hall will have a special Week of Welcome (WoW) beginning Aug. 29.

Students will be able to move in that week before classes begin on Sept. 8.

Multiple activities are planned, ranging from touring the Roadrunner cross country trails to ice cream socials.

WoW is designed to engage and orient students to the SMC campus and other resources available – hey, Dowagiac has a movie theater again!

Wow! is also what more than 300 people were saying who Sunday afternoon toured McKenzie Hall and the Student Activity Center (SAC), the vibrant, recreational hub of the Dowagiac campus.

Located in the Charles O. Zollar Building, the SAC has doubled in size, offering bigger and cooler activities for students and staff.

With completion of the renovation, 21,216 square feet have been added to the SAC, bringing the total size of the recreational facility to 43,306 square feet.

Eileen Crouse, SMC’s executive director of student housing and campus life, relocated her office from the Dale A. Lyons Building to oversee SAC operations.

Featured in the expansion is a rock climbing room featuring a new 28-foot by 53-foot oil on panel mural by art instructor David Baker, “Zion Canyon,” three resistance pools, a coffee and snack bar with a larger student lounge, that 80-seat event theater where movies and live performances will be shown on a theater-size screen, pool tables, larger game room and outdoor patio.

The towering 3,500-square-foot rock climbing room is like walking into a large crevice between two crags.

Designed and built by Rockwerx, a major climbing wall manufacturer from Massachusetts, it has a 35-foot vertical wall with several shorter walls and 12-foot high bouldering wall.

Baker’s mural completes the realistic illusion.

He traveled to Zion National Park last summer to photograph Zion Canyon and the infamous 1,500-foot Angels Landing which, along with the Virgin River flowing right out onto the springy floor, is the focal point.

SMC President Dr. David Mathews was “bitten by the (climbing) bug” in 1983 and rediscovered climbing after enrolling himself and his two children, Samantha and Michael, in a climbing school at Joshua Tree National Park a few years ago.
He will be teaching a rock-climbing course this fall as part of SMC’s popular Extreme Sports program.

The entire SAC is wireless for maximum use by students who want to lounge with their coffee and computer.

Furniture in the student lounge was purchased from West Michigan Office Interiors of Holland.

Students will find a much larger and expanded intramural sports program, as well as a newly-renovated and updated fitness center with classrooms for dance, yoga and other wellness activities.

There are larger locker rooms with shower facilities adjacent to the fitness center.
In addition, the SAC has the gymnasium for basketball and volleyball and racquetball and handball courts available.

Offices for the intramural sports program, SAC activities and campus activities are also located in the SAC.

The trailhead for the Roadrunner cross country trails, which feature more than six miles of running, hiking and cross country trails, is located behind the SAC. The SAC and fitness center will have expanded hours, including evenings and weekends.

McKenzie Hall, adjacent to the SAC, has three floors with fully furnished two- and four-bedroom suites to house 130 students. Each four-bedroom suite has two bathrooms and a kitchen, dining, living room combination.

Two-bedroom suites cost $6,000 for eight months and $6,500 for 12 months. Four-bedroom suites cost $5,000 for eight months and $5,500 for 12 months.

Amenities include central air conditioning, wi-fi Internet access, cable television, appliances, including a dishwasher and microwave, utilities, private bedroom with window, nine-foot ceilings, laundry facilities on each floor, a commons area/study area on each floor and an elevator.

While there are four students from Dowagiac, 17 McKenzie Hall residents will be from St. Joseph, 10 each from Niles and Buchanan, six from Mishawaka, Ind., and one each from Troy and Ypsilanti. All any of us who remember dorm living in an earlier era can say about what awaits them is … wow!