Students eat up Anderson Dining Hall renovations


Anderson Dining Hall employees serve lunch during the grand opening on Aug. 16. Photo credit: Lilly Kubit

Josie Barton and Michaela DeLauter

After months of planning and years of drawbacks, Chatham University’s Shadyside Campus finally completed the renovation of Anderson Dining Hall in August.

The dining hall was renovated with a budget of $4 million to better accommodate the rapidly growing student body.

The space now includes bright lighting, more inclusive food options and improved seating. Changes were made based on feedback from faculty, staff and students and a design team.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused some major drawbacks. The team started planning for the project in fall 2019 and was scheduled to begin the process in April 2020. Without the proper resources, equipment and people to start the project, the team decided it was best to postpone the process until August 2020. 

Vice President of Finance and Administration Jennifer Hoerster was active throughout the dining hall renovation process by partnering with the architects and the design team to make sure the project ran smoothly.

“Delaying the project because of the pandemic was an important decision,” Hoerster said. “We had to make sure to cover the needs and meet the deadlines and timelines with no hiccups.”

Hoerster met with the Assistant Professor of Sustainability Mary Whitney at Eden Hall Campus to discuss the use of sustainable resources on the Shadyside Campus.

As a new hire, General Manager of Anderson’s Dining Team Nick Corbett provided a unique view on the recent changes.

With sustainability as a key factor to Chatham’s new dining hall, Corbett wants to incorporate composting in the back of the dining hall. Anderson staff also cooks in small batches to minimize waste.

Architects and the design team took steps to add more natural light to the area by adding greenery walls.

Emily Smith ‘24 commended the renovation team on its new architecture advancements.

Students enjoy the newly-renovated Anderson Dining Hall during the grand opening on Aug. 16. Photo Credit: Lilly Kubit

“Compared to the old Anderson, I think the hall is aesthetically better and brighter,” said Smith.

Architects worked to expand the dining hall space and add new couches, booths and extra chairs. 

The design team worked to add TV screens to display news, school updates, events and student media. The team wants to work alongside the Communications Department to best utilize the displays for the student audience. 

A major change in the style of the hall was the visual aspect. Meals are now prepared in front of diners opposed to behind the kitchen wall.   

This opened up the ability to create more food stations, which helped to create a smoother flow for waiting students.

“By exposing food production areas and opening up prep space, the team not only has the space they need to complete their tasks, but it brings integrity to the program,” Corbett said.

Now clearly visible and marked, students with specialized or dietary limitations have more food options when eating in the dining hall, according to Corbett. Corbett understands some students have limited diets, and commends the renovation team on its improvements within the food safety department.

“The team at Eden Hall Campus embraced the idea of finding creative ways to provide more variety to students, much like our commitment to Anderson,”  Corbett said.

While some students reacted positively to the recent changes, others were not as impressed.

“There aren’t as many food improvements as I’d hoped,” Smith said.

Mobile ordering is now also incorporated into the new dining experience in Anderson. Students can order online meals through the GET app. “Hot Tomato Pizza” is one of the first mobile ordering options available to students and staff.

“I think it’s great for convenience, grabbing food on the run and food flexibility,” Corbett said.

Corbett was anxious to observe reactions to the recent changes. He noticed more students are changing their meal plans to incorporate more meals, and more faculty and staff are dining in the hall.   

The newly- renovated Anderson Dining Hall food lines during the grand opening on Aug. 16. Photo credit: Lilly Kubit

Brady Gardner ‘26 had positive comments regarding the changes. 

“The staff is very friendly and the food quality is excellent,” Gardner said.

As a manager, Corbett is willing to change elements of the dining hall experience to better serve students and staff. He encourages students to share their recommendations, criticism and comments on the big change. Students can submit their feedback through the QR codes on the napkin dispensers on tables in the dining hall.

Anderson Dining Hall is currently looking to hire additional staff for the more spacious dining hall. Students are welcome to apply directly through provided signage or by visiting Corbett’s office in the second floor lobby of Anderson Dining Hall.

Through community help and encouragement, Corbett is excited for the new year and ongoing improvements to Chatham’s dining experience.