Skip to main content

An Update on the Dining Hall and Community Commons Programmatic Committee: May 2018

Dear Friends,

This spring, we announced the formation of the Dining Hall and Community Commons Space Programmatic Committee, tasked with helping to facilitate plans for a revitalized dining hall and central commons space on campus. This space is intended to foster new connections among students and between students, faculty, and staff; be welcoming of and accessible to all members of our community; and embody Swarthmore’s commitment to sustainable environmental practices.

Over the last several months, the committee has begun to evaluate our current dining program and campus gathering spaces and map out some of the desired elements of a new centralized dining and communal space. As the semester comes to a close, we would like to share an update on the progress of those conversations as well as planned next steps. Please note the items below do not constitute a comprehensive list of all topics discussed by the committee.

Current Dining Program Challenges

  • Overcrowding and navigation issues in Sharples
  • Lack of accessible dining facilities across campus
  • Few outdoor seating options in most campus dining locations, and limited natural light in Sharples
  • Limited menu variety across campus dining locations
  • Dietary accommodations program lacks room to expand
  • Inadequate loading dock and food storage areas in Sharples 

Current Community Space Challenges 

  • Few large event spaces on campus
  • Few dedicated spaces for student groups and organizations to collaborate
  • No central hub where students, faculty, and staff can come together formally and informally as a community
  • Few places for students to relax, socialize, and take a break from their academic endeavors

Identified Needs for a Dining Hall and Community Commons Space

In light of the above challenges, the following emerged as desired components of a dining hall and community commons space, which should:

  • Serve as a centralized campus hub, offering a sense of community to students, faculty, and staff.
  • Include flexible spaces and varied seating arrangements for dining, meeting, and socializing.
  • Facilitate entrepreneurial ventures, new partnerships, and resource sharing.
  • Support relaxation, socializing, and fun.
  • Be fully accessible.
  • Offer more diverse, local, organic, and sustainable food options.
  • Expand the dietary accommodations program with more dedicated serving stations/areas.
  • Provide easy access for food deliveries and waste removal.
  • Integrate charging stations and other smart technology, including high-efficiency appliances and lighting.
  • Incorporate natural light and indoor and outdoor gathering spaces.
  • Offer extended hours and late-night dining options.  

Next Steps

Over the next year and a half, the committee will continue to meet to offer recommendations on what type of space might be needed on campus as well as investigate the operational requirements of any proposed facilities. The next steps in this process will be as follows:

  • Summer 2018: Infrastructure, engineering, and site plan review of Sharples to be completed.
  • Summer/Fall 2018: Search begins for dining consultants that will support the programmatic committee by gathering community feedback, creating a dining master plan, and assisting in the design and building process.
  • Fall 2018: An architectural firm is selected to develop a design and manage the building process.

We welcome input and ideas from the campus community, and you may contact me at with any questions. A full list of committee members can be found below.


Anthony Coschignano
Executive Director, Auxiliary Services

Dining Hall and Student Commons Space Programmatic Committee Members

Leadership Team

Chair: Anthony Coschignano, Executive Director, Auxiliary Services

Liz Braun, Dean of Students

Greg Brown, Vice President of Finance and Administration   

Linda McDougall, Director, Dining Services


Committee Members

Andrew Barclay, Assistant Director, Dean’s Office

Karen Borbee, Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach

Ali Craig, Senior Associate Director, Volunteers

Andrew  Feick, Associate Vice President, Facilities and Capital Programs

Mark Dumic, Director, Networking and Telecommunications

Randall Exon, Sara Lawrence Lightfoot Professor of Studio Art

Rachel Head, Assistant Dean and Director for Student Engagement

Brenna Heintz, Assistant Dean of Admissions

Jeff Jabco, Director of Grounds and Coordinator of Horticulture

Emma Kassan '20

Jonathan Kriney '20

Jack McGowan, Facilities Management

Chip Proctor, Manager of Administration, Environmental Services

Rabbi Michael Ramberg, Jewish Student Advisor

Alexandra Sastre '05, Communications

Claire Sawyers, Director, Scott Arboretum

Peggy Ann Seiden, College Librarian

Jan Semler, Director, Capital Planning and Project Management

Michael Hill, Director, Public Safety

Sam Smemo, Associate Director for Operations, Public Safety

Susan Smythe, ADA Program Manager and Senior Project Manager

Isaiah White '20

Aurora Winslade, Director, Sustainability

Adora Zhang '21