Dordt College News

Week of Welcome to start the new year

August 26, 2008

Dordt College’s 2008-2009 academic year begins Wednesday, Aug. 27, with a Week Of Welcome (WOW) kicking off the new year.

A campus-wide convocation ceremony for all faculty, staff, students and the public will be Thursday, Aug. 28, at 11 a.m., with the president of Dordt College, Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, as speaker. His topic will be, “Education by the Book.”

Also on Thursday will be the annual “Taste of Sioux Center” student open house, with local churches and businesses introducing themselves to students at the college Recreation Center. Introductions to campus continue at the all-college picnic Thursday evening and a freshman talent show later that night.

Over the summer months, Dordt’s Maintenance Department has been busy with a thorough cleaning of each of the 23 buildings on campus, in addition to repairs, painting, and updates throughout the summer. Remodeling upgrades were completed in the commons dining area, the student services department, and West Hall.

The computer services department spent the summer months equipping all residence halls with wireless internet access. All academic spaces were set up with wireless connectivity last summer, so students can now connect to Dordt’s massive network anywhere on campus.

Parking Improvements

Parking lots, campus green

Parking and landscaping changes are the most notable summer improvements, with new and reconfigured parking areas designed to improve the flow of traffic, maximize walking environment safety, and aesthetically improve the appearance of Dordt’s campus.

Dordt’s main entrance was realigned to flow directly into a boulevard which extends north to the high school. That parking area has been enhanced with partitions and landscaped areas designed to direct traffic patterns.
A new parking area adjacent to the KDCR Radio Station provides additional parking, as does a new parking area east of the B.J. Haan Auditorium to be completed this fall. A campus green now lies between the recreation center and the B.J. Haan Auditorium, making it much safer for the heavy pedestrian traffic pattern there.

Access to the new B.J. Haan parking area will be from the southwest corner of campus, at the intersection of Fourth Ave. NE and Fifth St. NE. From that entry point event parking is currently available south of the Campus Center. The new parking area east of the B.J. Haan will feature a circular drop-off area for elderly, handicapped, and large groups.

Prairie restoration project and bike trail

A prairie restoration project on the south side of campus is also proceeding, thanks in part to an Iowa Living Roadside Trust Fund grant; a grant from the Sioux County Community Foundation; and donations received from individuals committed to restoring a portion of native prairie for posterity.

“This project gives Dordt College a unique opportunity to live out its convictions, enhance student learning, and make an important contribution to the larger community,” says Dr. Robb De Haan, professor of environmental studies. Plans for native prairie restoration were drawn up by students in a Seminar on Creation Stewardship class, and include a berm and small ponds in a 24-acre wetland prairie area which will be used by environmental studies, biology, and agriculture classes, as well as by local elementary and high school classes.

In June, six acres were broadcast seeded with native prairie seed, then incorporated with a drag and packed with a roller. Another 15 acres will be planted to oats in late August or early September, and the oats stubble will be broadcast with native plant seed after soil temperatures drop below 50 degrees F and before the first snowfall, in November. “This is a natural cold moist treatment necessary that many wild flower seeds require to germinate,” said De Haan. “Natural freeze and thaw cycles work the seed into the ground, and the oat stubble provides cover to limit soil erosion and seed movement due to water or wind.” De Haan said a comparison of the different seeding methods could potentially provide data for student research projects.

Joint Use Locker rooms

Dordt College has been working with the city of Sioux Center and the Sioux Center Community High School on joint-use facilities at the All Seasons Center that will benefit all entities. The new wing (north of the ice rink and near the football field) provides locker rooms and storage for the football program, and is expected to be completed in time for the first year of varsity Defender football competition.

Library expansion

At the John and Louise Hulst Library, a new motorized compact library shelving system will allow 30 rows of books to fit in the space formerly occupied by 20 rows of books. The new shelving is mounted on a carriage which rides on a track installed on the library floor. With a push of a button, the desired aisle between bookcases “opens up like the Red Sea,” says Sheryl Taylor, director of library services.

In this first summer of lower level renovation, carpeting and flooring were removed, ceiling tiles and lights were replaced, and the east half of the mobile compact shelving was installed. Next summer the west half of the shelving will be installed, along with the remaining installation of new carpeting and other decorative touches.

The library currently has over 308,000 volumes, along with study space for more than 300 students.

Classroom building addition

Preliminary work has been done throughout the summer for starting construction on a $4.5 million addition to the classroom building, for use by the education and art departments. Nearly $2 million in leadership gifts have already been committed to this upgrade and expansion, with completion expected by the beginning of the 2009-2010 academic year.

Upon completion, the education department will offer future teachers the use of a smart technology classroom, a science methods classroom, and three new model classrooms. Ten education faculty offices, informal learning areas, an education faculty conference room, and an educational archives room are also being added.

The art department is looking forward to expanded spaces for teaching sculpture, painting, and print-making. Also included in the remodeled space are an art gallery and kiln room.

Students in all disciplines will benefit from a greatly expanded lobby and entry area, an additional staircase, and new restroom facilities.

Anyone interested in learning more about events at Dordt College or the changes that are occurring is encouraged to contact the Advancement Office at 722-6020 or visit

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