A correction was made to this story Dec. 16 at 3:17 p.m. MST. A previous version of this story implied construction on Florence J. Gillmor Hall has been going on for eight years, which is incorrect. The groundbreaking of Gillmor Hall took place in February 2020 and construction started months later. The eight-year time frame went into development, pre-planning and fundraising, according to the Chair of the Dance Department, Meghan Wall.
After eight years of planning followed by the groundbreaking in February 2020, Florence J. Gillmor Hall will serve as a new home for the Westminster College dance department, according to the Chair of the Dance Department, Meghan Wall.
However, the opening of the Florence J. Gillmor Hall was pushed back due to the supply shortage, according to President Beth Dobkin.
“[Gillmor Hall] has been affected by supply chain issues,” Dobkin said. “That has delayed the opening into Spring. At this point, it has not escalated costs for us, which is great.”
Dobkin said the supply chain shortage has affected materials ranging from wood products to electrical and metal supplies for construction.
“I understand that some of the machinery required to process wood, for instance, is a slow process to ramp back up once you get the raw materials,” Dobkin said. “[…] There’s a lag time even when supply of materials picks back up, the processing of those materials for use in projects is another delay, so everything gets slowed down.”
Some students said they are disappointed knowing they may not get to perform in the new building before they graduate.
“I was definitely bummed out that I wouldn’t get to use it,” said senior dance major Megan Fotheringham. “I was told I’d get to have my senior concert in the new building and it would be the first show [in the building, but then] it got delayed again.”
For now, the dance department will get a temporary space at Westminster on the Draw, according to Wall, where Fotheringham’s senior concert will be held. Special dance floors will be installed, and the closer location to campus will help with ease of transportation, according to Wall.
Currently, dance students take their classes at the Ballet West studio in Trolley Square. Since the studio is not owned by Westminster, class times are scheduled around when Ballet West needs the studio, according to Wall.
“Most of my [dance classes] have been at 8 a.m., which is pretty rough,” Fotheringham said. “To roll out of bed and start dancing at 8 a.m, […] you feel kind of disoriented.”
The scheduling of the classes, plus travel time to and from Trolley Square, also affects students who have back-to-back classes, according to Fotheringham.
“If you had a class right before or after your dance class, you’d have to leave early from one to make the other one on time,” Fotheringham said. “You were sacrificing learning time. […] A lot of my classmates in dance classes would have to leave 30 or 20 minutes early so they could get back to campus.”
Fotheringham said attending classes off campus feels like she doesn’t get the full college experience.
“Having everything [on campus] makes it feel more like you are getting a degree at a college and not going somewhere else for it,” Fotheringham said.
Sophomore dance major Sam Metzler said the Florence J. Gillmor Hall will hopefully bring more visibility to the dance department.
“[The average Westminster student] doesn’t know [the dance department] exists,” Metzler said. “I hear a lot of ‘Wait, really? That’s so cool.’”
There are not a lot of opportunities for the dance department to make lasting impressions, according to Metzler. With the construction and implementation of the new Florence J. Gillmor Hall, Metzler said hopefully more students will be aware of the dance department.