After several years of renovation and construction, Williams Hall has been transformed from the once empty building across from Lewis Lab into a global center for the Lehigh community, complete with offices and departments previously distributed throughout campus.
Originally slated to open in spring 2015, weather conditions and prior rushed construction delayed the opening of the building until this fall. The building will officially be dedicated the first weekend in October during the [email protected] weekend, which celebrates the university’s sesquicentennial year.
“The renovation allows for this historic building to be integrated with the University Center, Grace Hall and Taylor Gym in a way that will take full advantage of the natural campus flow,” Lehigh’s website states.
Williams Hall is intended to be a global hub and a student center. The building is also home to offices that have moved from their previous locations across campus, such as Student Affairs, Residence Life, Student Conduct, Academic Support Services and faculty from various departments. There are also tutoring rooms available.
Williams Hall is on its way to becoming an extension of the University Center. As student affairs and administrative offices move from the University Center to Williams Hall, students are encouraged to view Williams as a place focused on student services.
The comprehensive renovation created a center of support for modern language and literature, religion studies, sociology, anthropology and student affairs staff programs.
The main walk-in, which showcases the Global Commons, is designed to attract large groups of students. Upon first entering the building, there is space for students to study and interact. Global media outlets are featured throughout the five floors to promote the international theme.
“Before, the Center for Academic Success was on the fourth floor of the UC,” tutoring coordinator Lauren Phillips said. “I’m hoping since we are a bit more centrally located now, or at least it’s easier to get to now, we’ll see more people in the walk-in.”
The Center for Community Engagement is located in the lower lobby of the newly developed student center. Its purpose is to attract students who are involved in community service and connection.
Another office welcomed into the space is the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs. Program director Sherry Buss said she hopes the new location will promote teamwork.
“Classroom space was not a priority for the building, but what was really needed was event space and space for collaboration,” Buss said.
She said the Global Commons area and new media wall in the commons allows for event coordination.
“We’ll be able to bring global content programming into the university,” Buss said. The new media center provides event space and the technology to showcase major presentations.
The addition of the Global Cafe encourages traffic throughout the building, and draws student groups to use the Williams Hall facilities.
The additions and renovations to the building have created a student hub available to the entire community. The various offices for fields of study located in Williams Hall provide students the opportunity to interact with others around campus who have similar interests, and focus on a diverse range of programs.
The cross-disciplinary environment reiterates to the global theme of the building. It does not only focus on global affairs across the nation, bringing them to Lehigh, but also brings varying affairs across Lehigh together. Williams Hall is now a common ground for different programs that have overlapping missions and goals.