Phase one of Commons renovations concludes

Phase one of Commons renovations concludes
Students purchase food at Chick-fil-A on its opening day on Sept. 7. Photo by Ryleigh Tupper.

Phase one of Augustana’s plan to renovate the Morrison Commons recently reached completion, bringing with it the addition of Chick-fil-A and the relocation of Ole’s Outlet and SubConnection.

Freshman psychology major Amelia Barr enjoys having more dining options.

“I’m excited that there are more options for students to eat at,” Barr said. “I also love how fast and kind the staff are.”

Renovations are far from finished, however. Shannan Nelson, chief financial officer and executive vice president, explained that the Commons are set to be renovated within three phases.

With phase one finished, phase two is set to begin soon.

“Phase two renovation will include the renovation of the dining hall upstairs,” Nelson said. “It will include putting back a center staircase. The staircase that was once there but was removed. The Starbucks on campus will also be moving across the hall into what was most recently Ole’s Outlet."

Construction for phase two will start following graduation in the spring and will operate over summer. Nelson is hopeful the renovations will be finished before fall 2024.

Nelson emailed a mock-up of phase two and phase three to students in late August, including plans for a new student programming and cardio fitness center. Student programming will function as a meeting center for students, while the cardio fitness center will host fitness classes such as Zumba. These rooms along with an undetermined multipurpose space will replace parts of what is now the Back Alley.

Once built, the student programming and fitness center will be multifunctional and have the ability to open up and function as an auditorium.

Plans for a new Commons have remained a top goal for Augustana, especially with the growing student body. New renovations plan to bring more inclusivity for students and more seating, as students requested.

Phase two will also bring new changes to the dining hall.

Renovations will introduce the new dining option “Simple Servings,” which will serve meals that are prepared without eight of the most common allergens. This meal option will be available to students along with Chef’s Corner, the grill and a new enhanced salad bar.

Looking forward, phase three will finish all of the Commons renovations, adding more seating for students and expanding parking. Phase three isn’t scheduled to start until 2025.

President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said these renovations have been a long time coming.

“I came to Augustana in the fall of 2017 and renovating the Commons was in the Horizon Strategic Plan that I inherited from my predecessors,” Herseth Sandlin said.

According to Herseth Sandlin, incremental changes to the Commons have occurred over the years but to continue being a hub for students, significant renovations needed to occur.

Renovations are being completed in phases to better accommodate the budget for the project, Herseth Sandlin said.

“Because of inflation and some supply chain issues, we couldn’t add some of the design elements that we would’ve loved,” Herseth Sandlin. said. “We have to stay within the $7-8 million budget.”