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DECATUR – Millikin University celebrated the first birthday of its “front door,” the University Commons, in August, but that's only one of the recent changes to the landscape at the university.
Demolition of Richards Treat University Center started in May to make way for the Center for Theatre and Dance, slated to open in fall 2020. The $29 million project will include a 265-seat “black box” theater, orchestra pit, balcony and tech gallery, and the theater will be flexible so that it can be used as a traditional theater, a theater in the round, or one with stages at both ends. The building will include lighting and sound labs, costume studio and classroom, office and support areas and a glassed-in dance studio designed to allow campus and community to watch dance rehearsals from outside the building.
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The hope, said Laura Ledford, dean of the College of Fine Arts, is to bring the community onto campus, much like the University Commons has done. In only a year, the Commons has become an integral piece of campus life, while the Center for Theatre and Dance will offer more space for campus productions that will draw the community as well. A $5 million fundraising campaign is underway to add to the donations and other funding already secured.
Richland Community College also had some changes in 2018, with the opening of The Pantry in October. The space serves as a food pantry to help Richland students who are struggling to put food on the table at the same time they're going to school and, in many cases, work and raise a family, too.
Julie Melton, executive director of the Richland Community College Foundation, which awards many of the scholarships to Richland students, said she hears students' stories about their struggles.
“We're just trying to eliminate any barriers (to success),” Melton said. “We anticipate it will be very successful and provide a huge support for the students.”
In February, the college formally opened the Carroll Center for Innovative Learning and the Student Success Center, which had been available for use since classes began in January. The Carroll Center provides modern classrooms and community space, while the Student Success Center gives students, both new and current, a central location to handle all academic and financial processes. Together, the two additions take up more than 30,000 square feet of new space at a cost of $10 million.
Extra Points: See the top Herald & Review photos from 2018 high school football
Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter