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Department of Facility Services

Q&A: Orchard Hill — Messiah College's new president's residence and hospitality center


Does Messiah College need a new president’s residence?
Yes. The current residence was not designed to accommodate the hospitality and entertainment responsibilities of today’s college president. The facility lacks appropriate reception and entertainment facilities to comfortably accommodate large formal dinners and receptions, which are a critical part of the life and operations of the College.

Did the president request a new residence?
The president did not initiate the discussion for a new residence, nor has she been actively involved with the planning of this facility. Several years ago, prior to Dr. Phipps’ presidency, the Board of Trustees identified the need for a new president’s residence. Since, members of the Board have been solely responsible for designing, planning, and funding the construction and furnishing of the facility. Several months ago, architectural plans of the space were shared with the president and her family so that they might comment on their private, “family” space.

How old is the current residence?
The current residence was built in 1973 during D. Ray Hostetter’s presidency.

Where will the new residence be built? Why this particular location?
In 2001, the Board of Trustees purchased the Griswold House as a possible site for a future president’s residence. After careful survey of the property, it was decided that the Griswold House was not a suitable option. (The College has recently sold the Griswold property.) Now, the Trustees have selected a site on the current Musser Farm property which is located on Lisburn Road directly across from the main entrance to the College. The Board selected this location because of proximity to campus, ample space for parking guest vehicles, and ease of access.

What will happen to the farmhouse and barn currently located on the Musser property?

Both the farmhouse and barn currently located on the property will be removed to optimize available space for both the residence and parking. The College has identified firms that can reuse or restore the buildings.

What will happen to the current residence on campus?
The current residence will be used for student housing. The College's special interest housing program seeks to enhance students' educational experiences by immersing them in a living, learning community with a focus and advisor of their own choosing.  The Cocurricular Education Council has selected The Reconciliation House for the 2008-2009 academic year. The Reconciliation seeks to offer the campus community a place to not only dialogue openly and sincerely but to feel and be empowered to individually and collectively seek positive change.

How big will the new residence be?
The current plan calls for approximately 7,000 square feet of indoor space. This facility will have two separate spaces serving distinct purposes. Part of the residence will be private living quarters for the president and her family, and the other part will be for entertaining guests of the College, at the president's invitation.

How much will it cost? Who is paying for the new residence?
The Board’s President's Residence Task Force is currently finalizing cost information; however, the Board of Trustees is committed to funding the cost of the facility from their personal funds, including construction, site preparation, architectural fees, furnishings, landscaping, etc.  The College is covering some of the ancillary costs associated with transferring electricity and technology services to the new facility and the removal of the current buildings on the site.

Why is the new facility named "Orchard Hill?"
The President’s Residence Task Force, the group of trustees that has been providing leadership to this project, conducted research that indicates many colleges and universities select a formal name for their president’s residence. The Task Force recommended this direction for Messiah, and provided several naming options to the full board at its January 2008 meeting. Following this meeting, Board Chair Eunice Steinbrecher announced to the campus community that the trustees selected the name “Orchard Hill” for Messiah’s new president’s residence and hospitality center—in honor of the College’s commitment to plant orchard trees on the site that will eventually serve as a living environmental lab for students.

How will the new residence affect the College’s future operating budget?
Like the current facility, the new residence will become College property and will be maintained by College staff. Annual maintenance, utility, and depreciation costs will be part of the College’s budget.

How will the College use the reception and entertainment portions of the residence?
Extending hospitality to various College constituencies is an important aspect of the president’s role and a key commitment of Messiah College. For example, from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, the president hosted more than 1,300 College guests in her home for campus functions. The new facility will provide more suitable and ample space for entertaining student leaders, campus organizations, alumni, faculty leaders, employee groups, Board of Trustee members, neighbors, civic leaders, potential donors, etc.

Why is the residence being built now?
There are several reasons why a new residence is being built now.

  • First, the College will soon be entering a fundraising campaign. This effort will require a significant commitment from the president to not only travel off-campus to meet with donors but also to host them in her home.
  • Second, the College is committed to providing a welcoming, hospitable environment, and Messiah's current president excels at demonstrating gracious hospitality by inviting campus and local community members into her home to engage in conversation about important issues (1,353 College guests in the 2005-2006 academic year). A new home with increased hospitality space will provide adequate areas for hosting larger groups.
  • Third, the trustees are currently willing to fund a new residence.
When will the new president's residence be finished?
Construction began in late Summer 2007 and is expected to be completed in mid-July 2008.