Le Fer Hall in the summer

Enhancing Life At The Woods

Onyx Online | 10.21.2019

Aspire Higher Campaign Fall 2019 Update

By Dianne Frances D. Powell

Emma sitting at the computer bar.
Emma Taylor sits at the computer bar in Le Fer Hall studying.

Since the leadership phase of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College’s Aspire Higher campaign began in July 2016, this comprehensive campaign has been driving major improvements to campus infrastructure to meet the needs of today’s students. These improvements, made possible by donor support, are making an impact on the student experience.

For example, students have started reaping the benefits of renovations to the large student lounge on the first floor of Le Fer Hall, known to most alums as the Green or Sullivan Parlor. The lounge now features its original hardwood floors. It also received improved LED lighting, electrical outlets and all new furniture.

“Being able to have a designated, comfortable space to study and work with friends really helps build community,” said Emma Taylor, a junior elementary education major from Greencastle, Indiana. “Being a student here during this time is very eye-opening because I get to see history unfold.”

The Sacred Heart Chapel has also been relocated to the main floor thanks to a generous campaign donation from the Class of 1964. The former chapel space on the ground level is now Studio 64, a student flex space providing a practice venue for the new dance team and other activities such as yoga, exercise classes and a meeting space for students.

“I go to the chapel a lot. It’s a very peaceful area on campus. It’s a great place to unwind and connect with God,” Taylor, a member of the I Love Le Fer Student Advisory Committee, said. The committee provided the student perspective for the planning of the I Love Le Fer initiative, which is a focus of the Aspire Higher Campaign.

Students sitting on the couches of Sullivan.
New furniture and lighting in student lounge
Two students studying on a laptop.
New study area in student lounge

Taylor also welcomed the addition of a computer bar on the main academic hallway of Le Fer. Installed this past spring, the computers are adjacent to a nearby printer providing added convenience to the students completing academic work. The computer lab, located on the first floor, has been repurposed into a faculty office.

Students sitting in a circle, learning how to do CPR.
Resident assistants participate in CPR training in new Studio 64

The $22 million Aspire Higher Campaign has three primary focuses: the Woods Fund, endowment growth and a capital project to renovate Le Fer Hall, SMWC’s residence hall that opened in 1923. The campaign publicly launched in February 2018 with strong support from those who love The Woods.

The capital project, known as the I Love Le Fer initiative, so far, has made possible other significant updates to student and community spaces to the first floor of Le Fer. In addition to Sullivan Parlor and the Sacred Heart Chapel, they include:

  • A new proximity card system installed in Le Fer Hall providing students a safe environment and more modern access to the building and living spaces.
  • New public, ADA accessible restrooms added to the first floor.
  • A modern prep kitchen added for food service partner and campaign contributor, Sodexo, Inc.
  • A computer bar and LED lighting added to Le Fer’s first floor academic hallway.
  • Modesty walls built at community bathroom entrances.
  • New hardwood floors installed in McMahon Ballroom.
The computer bar.
Computer Bar

In addition, gifts made to the Aspire Higher Campaign made way for other improvements such as the construction of the Le Fer Lake walking trail, the return of the crosses atop Le Fer Hall, Guerin Hall and the Conservatory of Music, new front doors for Rooney Library, the re-sealing of The Avenue and parking lots, and the establishment of numerous endowments for scholarship and academic programs.

But these positive changes at SMWC have only just begun. Continued gifts to the campaign made by the College’s alumni and friends are directing more campus improvements this fall and winter. Among other projects, further exciting enhancements to residential life at The Woods will include:

  • New front doors for Le Fer Hall.
  • Carpet installation on all hallways of the resident floors.
  • A renovation of the community spaces known as “Centers” on all resident floors. This renovation involves increasing and improving lighting in these spaces, a complete remodel of kitchens with new appliances, cabinets, lighting and floors, and the addition of new furniture in all community areas.
  • Free laundry facilities on the resident floors.
  • Water bottle filling stations on all wings replacing existing water fountains.