Simpson Dormitory after renovations were completed in 2015 | Hillsdale College
Simpson Dormitory after renovations were completed in 2015 | Hillsdale College

Christ Church, named after the Philadelphian Church that the Founding Fathers’ worshipped at during the Continental Congress, is planned to complete the quad, and serve as one of the two most prominent buildings on campus. There are alternative uses for this money that will give greater benefit to the students, faculty, and the college’s reputation.

Christ Church was designed by Notre Dame architect professor Duncan Stroik. It bears a $28.5 million price tag, and will be the most expensive college chapel in America. Christ Church’s 64-foot painted ceilings, seating capacity of 1,350, and 27,000 square feet leave little to be desired by the imagination; however, imagination can be used to brainstorm better uses for this money.

It is often hard to look past these grandiose features and see instead what is not being built with this money.

For only $28 million, Hillsdale could purchase the entire English village of West Heslerton, which includes  2,116 acres of land, a 21-bedroom hall, and 43 houses. Hillsdale could open a study abroad campus there to provide more educational opportunities rather than build a cathedral.

The Broad Key Islands off the coast of Florida cost only $20 million, and would provide incredible opportunities for biology classes, which are already offered in the Keys. Hillsdale could expand campus and offer in-depth research at facilities on the water’s edge, giving undergraduate students an invaluable snapshot of the graduate school experience.

Another option is buying the Magna Carta which was sold for $21.3 million in 2007.

Hillsdale College’s freshman classes have been larger than normal, with the Fall ‘15 and Fall ’16 classes numbering 386 and 377, bringing a crowded dining hall and a record high of more than 450 students living off campus, some who were forced out of the dorms. Freshmen women filled Mcintyre and  Olds, but also Koon, an oddity for veteran students who spent their best memories at the designated freshman dorms. Meanwhile, the displaced Mauck residents are living in Park Place and Boardwalk, two student residences the college plans to tear down after the residents leave.

While this problem may seem trivial to some, many students’ scholarships include housing, but they will lose this money if they are forced to live off campus. Hillsdale could build two residence halls for about $5-to-$7 million each and continue accepting larger class sizes. Other options include building another dining hall or even investing in the community by expanding the dining hall swipes to local restaurants and coffeeshops. The mandatory meal plan for all students brings explicit benefits for those living in the dorms who eat solely at the dining hall, but upperclassmen and those living off campus should have the personal liberty to feed themselves at a lower cost and gain valuable cooking experience.

The kickstart of the chapel was a donation of $12.5 million by Jack and Jo Babbitt, which they intended for the chapel, and those funds should build a chapel. The remaining money, however, could be used to benefit students by building new dorms, another dining hall, or renovating older classrooms.

  • Camus53

    Scott, unfortunately the college has sold its soul to the twin devils of money and power a long time ago. Where once it stood for education, its educators, it students, the college now likes to brag about chapels, and gun ranges, and all the money pouring into it’s coffers from the extreme right political movement.

    I can tell you that a long time ago when Hillsdale was mentioned in job interviews it was met with keen interest by the interviewers…nowadays…mention Hillsdale and eyebrows go up and remarks like is that Limbaugh or Jerry Fallen’s school?

    You sir are a voice of truth in a forest of darkness.

    Illegitimi non carborundum

  • Jennifer Melfi

    the school’s website now contains the following: “A DEEPLY FAITHFUL COLLEGE

    Hillsdale College is not affiliated with a church or denomination. But our students will tell you that their faith grows and deepens here. In and out of the classroom, Hillsdale students are engaged in religious activities and in conversations about faith – about its role in their personal lives and in the nation. Located in the center of campus, Christ Chapel will be a place where students, faculty, and staff can practice their faith as a community.”

    What about all of the people who are exposed to the emptiness of the religious right, get to read about some truly great thinkers, and end having no religion? Did the faith of these people grown and deepen? The school wants to ignore these stories so they can keep getting those big christian checks.

    • Marcy Almay

      I’m just wondering how Patrick Flannery is going to do walking into the new tax evasion cathedral. I think the walls will probably collapse on him (LOL!) Like, don’t feed those the college PUT into poverty through their creepy tactics of not paying ANY taxes toward the well being of this county! I swear, when I read the trash that comes out of his and Gary Wolfram’s PR statements, I wonder if this scam is going on nationally. They don’t qualify for their tax evasion even IF THEY DO build a church, mainly because their Barney Initiative and Kirby Centers aren’t religiously based yet are run off our tax dollars they’re not paying here in this county/state. They won’t let the preponderance of our communities kids get an education at their college by economic discrimination, refusing FASFA, but then they whine that our community has under-educated kids that won’t work? We have 36,000 people in the rural county area that largely can’t afford car insurance to even get to work! Instead of having GOAL be a pretty charity where kids can get some resume citations, maybe they should start a social poverty assistance program to pay for the things their tax discounts are incurring that cause kids not to be able to work, and transportation is a huge problem!
      ‘….On the issue of poverty, Chief Financial Officer for Hillsdale College and City Councilman Patrick Flannery said that there is a perception that some members of the community aren’t motivated to work. He said it is in part because churches help out, give them food, but should focus on helping the parents realize they need to get back into the workforce. “There’s a difficulty in convincing parents of these children that they need to work, because there seems to be an opposition to working or an incentive not to work,” Flannery said. “It’s frustrating to see.” He said churches in the community are helping parents by giving them food and praying for them, and stressed the importance of educating parents on their responsibility to work, having them return to or enter the workforce as the ultimate goal of such education…’

      • Marcy Almay

        That article shows how the college is responsible for a lot of problems, City Manager Mackie notes there’s little housing for those who come here in the article here:
        ‘…Hillsdale City Manager David Mackie said he believes the lack of housing is one of the major problems facing the city’s economic development. He explained how he and his family, two adults and three children, struggled to find somewhere to live upon moving to Hillsdale, a difficulty shared by potential business owners. “The first questions businesses ask when they consider moving here has to do with where their staff and employees will live,” Mackie said. “We have a limited stock of move-in ready homes and a high landlord rental rate. Housing is very critical to our community right now as it affects business development.” Mackie said city officials are working to fix this problem by marketing a recently-built subdivision, building a 40-room senior center, and performing demolitions on derelict houses…’ Then in this article, they did a study showing they aren’t providing enough housing for their students, something their admissions department promises:
        We have a huge problem with homelessness around here, most “kids” that live in poverty and don’t work that churches have to feed that Mr. Flannery is hating on can’t live in the new housing system or senior housing the college wants to focus on, duh they can’t afford to! That housing was built to get Mr. Flannery some more RICH seniors to feed on in the college’s profitable endowment exploitation of their “church” status:
        Give it twice:
        Bargain Sale:
        It targets seniors, telling them they’re saving our country by donating to the college, but what the college does is wreck this community by not paying anything to operate here, and exploiting seniors.
        Why not build dorms for the kids, why a $28 million dollar church and a lot of senior housing?
        There was a big push to get 42 Union a huge donation from Michigan Economic Development, AND a city tax abatement but I’d still like to see where that plating plant that used to reside there had adequate clean up to even make those living spaces be safe to live in.
        Is THAT the off campus housing college kids are being forced to live in, because the college lies during admission processes and says they’ll have housing on campus the full four years they’re students there?
        To me, it’s pretty clear that the tax evasion the college commits wasn’t enough, they’re so sick with greed that they’re fighting hard to put the entire county into peril in ancillary ways.
        And it’s damaging their main reason to exist: the students they educate and they don’t even care about THEM anymore. It’s all about seizing control of the estates of their alumni and exploiting them.