Former dining hall set to become UW-River Falls student services hub

Posted February 8, 2017

David Rodli Hall on the UW-River Falls campus is slated for big changes in 2018.

More commonly known as Rodli Hall, it was built in the mid 1960s as a dining hall for students but over the years has seen a few changes, including its current use as an academic building and campus storage facility.

University officials are now preparing for another transformation to the building: a new center for student services.

The center will house most of the university’s student-related services, including Career Services, International Student Services, Student Health and Counseling, and the Writing Center, which all are currently located in separate buildings on campus. The building will also house student achievement and scholarship offices including McNair Scholars and Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity.

Campus Planner Dale Braun said the renovation is important because it will create convenience for students and push them to work together.

“Encourage students to collaborate on different academic things. That’s why we have McNair Scholars and the Falcon Scholars and Honors, URSCA — all those kind of things — together,” Braun said.

According to UWRF’s chancellor’s office, a majority of the renovation will be paid for through $11.1 million loaned by the state that must be paid back within 20 years. An additional $4 million will be provided through a segregated fee of $16.50 each semester, which was agreed to by the Student Senate.

Assistant Director of Counseling Services Jennifer Elsesser said moving Student Health and Counseling Services from its current location in Hagestad Hall to a more central location will help break the stigma some students might have about seeking counseling.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of hesitancy when seeking services,” said Elsesser. “So to be in a place surrounded by departments, it’s just easier for students to go from tutoring to seeing their counselor.”

Student Health and Counseling Services’ current facility is too small to fit the program’s needs and limits the number of students able to receive help. Elsesser also said the new facility will provide the program with more space to offer more services and to hire an additional counselor.

“Right now, on our floor, we are filled to capacity,” Elsesser said. “When we move to Rodli, they’ve allocated more space for us to accommodate for any changes. We have a lot to gain.”

Braun said the renovation will help the university modernize its campus and keep pace with current student goals and expectations.

“Students learn differently today and in order to use modern teaching techniques, we have to have modern facilities to do that,” Braun said. “In addition to that, things just wear out and so we are constantly replacing all these different mechanical systems that make these buildings live.”

Construction is expected to start late this year or early next year with a completion date sometime in 2019. After Rodli Hall is renovated, the university will start to address plans to update its science facilities.