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Switch­board operator Billie Jo Hardwood is moving her oper­a­tions to the new contact center in Kendall Hall. (Madeleine Barry/Collegian)

Stu­dents and vis­itors strolling into Central Hall will soon no longer see the smiling greeting of Billie Jo Harwood behind the front desk.

Starting around Nov. 1, the college switch­board is leaving for the new contact center in the basement level of Kendall Hall. In the new facility, all of the college’s external com­mu­ni­ca­tions — email, phone, and chat — will have a central location, and Harwood will have assistant switch­board oper­ators.

“I’m excited for the change,” Harwood said. “But I will miss ‘my stu­dents’ — all those I speak to on a normal basis.”

The key dif­ference regarding the switch­board, Director of the Contact Center John Papciak said, is that now stu­dents will also be working alongside Harwood as switch­board oper­ators.

“Billie Jo will move over, and stu­dents will also help,” Papciak said. “There will be more hands on deck to help with those oper­a­tions.”

In the future, the college plans for the contact center to publish a toll-free 800 number for the campus.

“The idea is to slowly inte­grate mul­tiple depart­ments into the contact center,” said senior Luke Daigneault, a contact center employee. “The end goal is to basi­cally have all the college depart­ments on one phone number. Somebody calls it and can choose the department they want to call.”

Papciak said when people call the 800 number, they would hear a number of options and press a digit on their number pad to select where to be trans­ferred. The changes, however, wouldn’t take place for at least a year’s time, he said.

“We have many phone lines at Hillsdale College that would need to be con­sol­i­dated, but that is where we’re moving toward,” Papciak said.

Other future plans for the contact center include cre­ating a live chat feature on the college’s website, Papciak said.

“We’re looking at being able to chat via text on our website with a prospective or a current student and then even­tually down the road also maybe assisting mar­keting with social media endeavors, but that is very unde­fined at this point,” Papciak said.

The contact center is holding an open house for all of campus Thursday from 7 – 9 p.m. to cel­e­brate its grand opening.