Tuskegee University celebrates return of Tompkins Hall
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (October 18, 2013) — The Tuskegee University community marked the re-opening of Tompkins Hall in grand style during a ribbon cutting ceremony held today. The festive celebration featured free snacks, discounted meal prices, and Tuskegee University cheerleaders and the Marching Crimson Pipers’ drum line entertained the crowd gathered in front of the hall. Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon, and the university’s board of trustees cut the ribbon on the more than 100-year-old building.
Built in 1906, Tompkins served as the primary student dining facility until its closure in February 2011 due to roof damage and other structural problems. Several options were put in place to accommodate the students after Tompkins’ closure, including cooking food off-site at a former elementary school’s cafeteria in the City of Tuskegee and transporting it back for students. Chambliss Business House was remodeled in summer of 2011 and served as the temporary dining hall until this fall semester.
“When we’re in crisis, we come together and resolve problems,” Rochon said.
Although work continues on a massive $33 million renovation, some parts of the building are in operation. In August, the dining facilities opened to the public and all of the recreation areas are expected to open later this year. Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Williams, chairman of the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees, said the project, although costly in today’s economy, was a top priority.
“There is no other building that has a more student-centric flavor than this one,” Williams said.
The building includes a ballroom, an auditorium, a game room, a retail restaurant, and a 24-hour student study with healthy food vending machines. Part of the construction also included the expansion of the building from 73,000 to 90,000 square feet. The extra space accommodates a number of additions including a new third floor with a multipurpose space for student recreation that can be used for emergency shelter space.
“It’s an architectural feat,” Tyrone N. Jackson, alumnus and architecture assistant to the vice president, said.
© 2013 Tuskegee University