Following record enrollment growth, Piedmont College has added a massive, “badly needed” facility.
The Student Commons, a new 58,000-square-foot building on the Demorest campus, was added to benefit students, replacing a smaller, dated dining hall. An official opening ceremony was held Friday for the public to view the facility.
“It’s basically a student center,” David Price, director of public relations for the college, told The Times. “It has a new, large, dining hall that’s much larger than the previous dining hall and has I think three or four more serving stations.”
The student facility was necessary following record growth in the college’s last three freshman classes, according to a release.
The college houses more than 650 students on the campus. About 180 of those students are living in Piedmont Village, new, apartment-style buildings that also opened with the fall semester.
The steel-and-glass Student Commons offers students health and fitness assets including an intramural gymnasium, walking track, fitness center, racquetball court and rock climbing wall, plus a new dining hall, a Starbucks coffee shop and a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Piedmont President James Mellichamp said the building is now a focal point for the campus.
“It is equal to — or better — than student centers at larger colleges in the Southeast,” he said. “And I think it will improve the college experience for all of our students and the faculty and staff as well.”
Emily Pettit, Piedmont dean of student engagement, said the building will serve a variety of purposes for students.
“This centralized facility will be a place to gather for meals, coffee, fitness, recreation and student activities,” Pettit said. “Students can push themselves outside their comfort zone as they try out the rock wall or build their leadership skills by getting involved in co-curricular activities. Having these opportunities under one roof provides more ways for students to connect and have shared experiences, building our Lion pride.”
Price said construction of the facility began in May 2013. Kyndal Goss, a freshman from nearby Mount Airy, says she was impressed by the new center even while it was under construction.
“I love it — so modern and cool,” she said. “I like the new dining hall and the food court. When I was looking at colleges, this drew me in. I think it will be a big thing for everybody.”