Kim S. Phipps Admissions and Welcome Center

The Kim S. Phipps Admissions and Welcome Center


Campus Green


From the Office of the Vice President of Operations Kathie Shafer - July 31, 2019


Rooted in the campus master plan and strategic plan: During the 2015-2016 academic year, Messiah retained the firm of Derck & Edson to help develop a new campus master plan that would align the College’s future facility priorities in conjunction with the College’s long-term strategic planning goals. In October 2016, Messiah’s board of trustees officially approved the plan, which outlined three phases of potential projects.  There were several critical “phase one” projects that the board asked College leadership to begin to advance: the Falcon Fitness Center, residence hall renovations, a new commuter student lounge, digital humanities space, and a finance lab—all of which have been completed in the past three years. The new admissions and welcome center, located in a central location surrounded by campus green space, is the last major “phase one” project of the campus master plan.

The need for the admissions and welcome center: At the January 2018 board of trustees meeting, George Parmer, the board chair, announced that the board of trustees voted to proceed with the admissions and welcome center project (AWC). The board decided unanimously that this new facility will be named the “Kim S. Phipps Admissions and Welcome Center” in celebration of the excellent leadership that President Phipps has exhibited during her 14 years as Messiah’s president—and in recognition of hospitality as a core value and practice for Messiah. At a time when student recruitment is more competitive and more crucial than ever to Messiah’s financial health and success―this facility is planned specifically for the purpose of welcoming and recruiting prospective students and their families. Recruitment research, including our own internal data, confirm the critical role that a positive campus visit plays in a student’s decision-making process.

Current admissions space, which is inadequate in size and spread disjointedly throughout Old Main, does not connect visitors to the rest of the campus or provide conducive meeting/consult space for the enrollment management team with students and their families. The AWC is strategically designed meet these needs. Additionally, the new campus green will be viewable and accessible from the back of the AWC, and will serve as a scenic starting point for campus tours—allowing visiting students and their families to be a part of the activity and interaction at the academic center of our campus.

At its May 2019 meeting, the board of trustees announced that it had collaborated with the Development Office team to raise $10 million—with gifts contributed from more than 900 donors― for the construction of this project, and that the board had approved construction for the AWC and campus green space to begin in August 2019.


Site selection process:  The campus master plan originally presented an option that a new admissions and welcome center could be added on to a renovated Hoffman Hall. However, in a study commissioned by the board of trustees in fall 2017, it was determined that it would be more cost effective to build a new freestanding facility for the admissions and welcome center and raze the current site of Hoffman Hall. (The study showed it would have taken great expense to retrofit Hoffman to make it energy efficient. The investment in a new building will simultaneously meet federal energy codes while incorporating several energy efficient design components—including an innovative, lighting system and energy-efficient plumbing fixtures and mechanical systems—all of which provide benefit to the College’s annual utility budget.) The board approved this direction at its winter 2018 meeting.

Alternatively, the architectural team could have chosen an undeveloped site—such as the meadow by the main entrance or clear a wooded area on campus to create a new building site. However, we determined that this facility needed to be centrally located to effectively immerse visiting students and their families into daily campus life. To this end, the team selected the site between Eisenhower and Boyer Hall. The resulting building design creatively leverages the slope of the site by providing access from the lower level on one side, and from an upper level on the other side. This also naturally provided for a communal green space in the academic heart of campus--taking advantage of the existing large trees and relatively gentle slope. Currently, this area is a parking lot (in front of Boyer, Hostetter Chapel, Murray Library and Hoffman) where students, staff and visitors are forced to walk through vehicle traffic to get from one building to another. The new plan creates a pedestrian-only space where the campus can safely walk, learn, interact, and shape an even greater sense of community.

Parking reallocation from central campus: The creation of a new campus green does displace a significant amount of current parking. College leadership recognized that the loss of approximately 45 parking spaces in the heart of campus would be concerning to both students and employees that, combined with the requirements of Upper Allen Township, necessitated finding somewhere to build additional parking. Once again, the design team could have proposed a location remote from the center of campus, on a piece of the campus property that is currently undeveloped, but that solution did not best serve the needs of the college. Instead, expanding the existing visitor lot adjacent to Old Main afforded just enough parking spaces to meet the requirements of the township while also continuing to provide parking in areas that employees and students need it most.

Tree removal and additions: Once the location of the AWC and campus green space was determined, the only location available to meet both the minimum number of spaces and the proximity to central campus was the plot of land between Boyer and Old Main. This regrettably necessitated the removal of existing trees in this area due to the grading required for the parking lot. This was a challenging decision, but necessary for the advancement of this important project.

Accessibility is also an important goal for the AWC project. Our current campus, by the nature of the topography, is not fully accessible to its community or visitors—particularly to those individuals with mobility issues. A significant project objective is to provide full accessibility to the AWC, the academic buildings that are adjacent to the campus green, and to provide a barrier-free path that connects the extension of campus from the High Center all the way to Larsen Student Union. To create this path, grading of the land is required, a result of which will be the loss of some additional existing trees. Having a campus that provides physical access to everyone is an important component to a campus community that can be sustained for years to come.

The College continues, however, to integrate its commitment to sustainability into the overall site design. For example, in addition to the strategic siting of the building to preserve the most useable/desirable land and the most desirable existing trees, the site design adds a total of 69 new trees (which exceeds the approximate total of 50 trees needed to be removed for the project), plus 279 shrubs, over 2,400 groundcovers, perennials and grasses, and 2,745 new bulbs. The majority of the new plant material is native to the region and will require no additional irrigation once established.

The Office of Sustainability has additionally been working since the inception of this project to plan and secure funding for a campus tree restoration. We are excited to announce that, with grant funding from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, over 100 native tree saplings will be planted in different areas of campus this upcoming year. While saplings do not directly replace the loss of older trees, they will make a positive impact on our campus for decades to come.

Storm water and lighting efficiencies: The design of the extended Old Main parking lot also affords the opportunity to provide storm water management under the lot, conserving land space on campus for other uses. This storm water facility is designed to take the storm water from the site and infiltrate it through a stone bed, settling out chemicals and sediment and allowing it to infiltrate back into the ground. The design of this facility follows requirements of DEP and the Cumberland County Conservation District.

Additionally, new LED light fixtures are planned for the project area. The grounds and facilities staff for the college have reviewed and approved the plan to ensure that the plantings and proposed improvements will not add unnecessary maintenance effort or costs once the project is completed.


The master plan also determined that, in addition to admissions, other offices that work collaboratively to recruit and retain students should also be located in the new building. When construction of the AWC is completed, all of admissions, financial aid and financial services, the registrar’s office and the office of alumni and parent relations will be relocated to that new facility.

Space in Old Main will then be renovated so that the ITS team and finance and procurement teams that were located in Hoffman Hall may be relocated to Old Main. Laundry services, also currently located in Hoffman, will be relocated to Eisenhower Campus Center. Once these relocations occur, Hoffman will come down to complete the new campus green space. 


  • The main project work is scheduled to begin in the middle to late August 2019.  Advance prep work has been happening over the last several weeks, including the removal of the trees below Boyer Hall and the installation of additional construction fencing.  (See attached campus map for this plan.)
  • Aug. 12, 2019 – the parking in front of the library, Hoffman, Hostetter Chapel and Boyer will be closed off. 
    • Employees assigned to this area will be receiving a new parking assignment from the Department of Safety. There will be temporary disability parking spaces behind the library with an accessible path to the buildings.
    • Departments that receive deliveries through the front entrance of these buildings will need to communicate to businesses that they will need to come to the parking behind Boyer, the library and Hostetter, with a dolly, make deliveries to the buildings. Signage will be placed out to assist persons to locate this parking.
  • By the end of August 2019, construction will begin for the new Admissions and Welcome Center on the front lawn next to Eisenhower Campus Center. (See attached rendering of the building.)
  • Construction is expected to be completed by mid-June 2020. Once the staff and offices that are relocating to the AWC from Old Main and Eisenhower have moved, renovations that need to occur in those buildings will begin.
  • By mid to late August 2020 Old Main and Eisenhower renovations and resulting staff moves into those buildings are estimated to be completed.
  • Hoffman will then be demolished and the green space will be completed by October 1, 2020.  (See attached rendering of the green park area.)
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Green Space

Green space rendering

Walking Map for Fenced in Area

Please follow the walking path shown in the photo below to get around the construction area.

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7-12-2021 - Green Space

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12-8-20 - Working on the green space

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September 16, 2020

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