$50 Million HUB Renovation to be Largest Capital Project in Dickinson History

Adam Mast '25, Staff Writer

President John E. Jones told The Dickinsonian that the college plans to begin construction on a $50 million renovation of the Holland Union Building, set to begin in May 2024. The ambitious changes will constitute the largest capital project in Dickinson history.

The HUB has remained virtually unchanged for the last few decades since its construction in the 1960s. “The HUB renovations have been kicked down the road for probably a generation and [the HUB] is badly in need of an overhaul,” said Jones. 

According to Jones, the HUB’s infrastructure has been deteriorating recently, and Jones notes that “We have been putting good money towards bad.” Rather than continuing to repair the HUB when problems arise, Jones is committed to making large-scale renovations. With construction likely to begin in May 2024, the project will span multiple years. 

Jones aims to completely redesign the first floor of the HUB and re-model the Dining Hall to better compete with peer institutions. “At a premium liberal arts college like Dickinson, the expectation is that you have a better student center than what the HUB has become,” said Jones. 

Dickinson is part of a cutthroat higher education market, and Jones believes these renovations will improve student recruitment in addition to overall student life. “It’s easy to perceive that some of our peer schools have upped their food games, they’ve upped their facilities games, and this is a question of staying competitive in the market,” said Jones. 

To accomplish this goal, Jones wants to create nine “Micro-Restaurants.” According to current plans, these individual locations will offer varied menus during different parts of the day. Rather than using a swipe to enter the central Dining Hall, students would swipe in to order food at a specific location. Jones also wants to take advantage of fresh foods from the College Farm and other local producers to create a “farm-to-table” experience.

The renovations would also aim to increase seating space in the Dining Hall. Currently, the Dining Hall seats around 700 students, which Jones is hoping to increase to 1000 after renovations.  

Jones said the College plans to implement these renovations in phases, though Jones notes that “Dining will be first.” He believes that students who will not be around to see the complete renovation finished will still benefit from these changes. The HUB will still be accessible to students attending Dickinson amidst the construction. “It’s not as if we can close the HUB because we can’t…we’ve got to accommodate students for Dining,” said Jones. “[The HUB] will be in part a construction site, but things will come on sequentially.” 

The HUB’s Social Hall will also be a target of the renovations. “We would take a portion or all of the Social Hall and turn that into student space that is an all-campus living room…I don’t think the cushies get it done,” said Jones. These plans include an indoor and outdoor space, like a porch, where students can congregate and sit outside. Jones also wants to use “a lot of glass” for the student space to overlook Britton Plaza. 

Jones believes that the Social Hall space is not being properly utilized: “You walk by the Social Hall and most times it is empty, and we would like to put that space to more consistent and better use,” said Jones. While there have been no final decisions, Jones recognizes the fact that the college needs a facility to have dinners and catered events, and they are looking into numerous options on where to replace the Social Hall for these purposes.

According to Jones, the College will finance this massive project through a combination of donations, borrowing, and the endowment fund. Jones is unsure of whether the Dining Service budget will have to increase after these renovations, but he is sure the changes to the Dining Hall will radically change how the college buys and serves food. These changes will also require substantial amounts of retraining, but “we think the dining staff can handle it,” said Jones.