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 the 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 coffee shops. 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.