The contrast in generations enjoying the Ridge Student Center on the Adrian College campus Saturday night was most fitting for the occasion. Groups of students went about their business studying and socializing in the lounge area and patronizing the Bulldog Cafe, while 200 visitors milled through the modernized building.
For most of the visitors it was an opportunity to see how the onetime bleak gymnasium was transformed into a state-of-the-art student center. Since it was opened to the student body last fall, the student center has become the students home away from home, exactly as college president Stanley Caine had hoped when the plan to revitalize the historic building was made.
The reception and a dinner that followed honored Caine, who will retire June 30, and his wife, Karen. Little did the students know that five hours later, their favorite campus gathering place would no longer be the Ridge Student Center, but the Stanley P. Caine Student Center to honor the man who spearheaded the $5 million building project.
The announcement by trustees Gary Valade and David Hickman that the building would be renamed concluded a program of several impressive accolades to the man who has been at the college helm 16 years. Program participants included Bill Liebold, president of the Michigan Colleges Foundation; Dr. Edward Blews, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan; David Neilson, commissioner of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and Dr. Rick Artman, president of Siena Heights University in Adrian. Each added enough puns to keep the program lively, but the bottom line was that the students and their welfare was Dr. Caine s main focus.
The building s new lettering that will officially announce the recognition is not in place yet, but Dr. Caine s reputation for being a student-centered president is widespread on campus as well as in the Adrian community. It has been common for students to stop at his office unannounced for conversation and to dip into the dish of jelly beans that are always on a table.
It was easy to tell at the reception that the building with a commanding overview of the campus has a place of honor in Lenawee County history. Visitors recalled attending sports events and cheering for their favorite team while others remembered swimming in the pool, going to the circus, dress-up social events, and eating at the Bulldog Inn.
This is a building that literally was constructed in stages, beginning in 1929 when the cornerstone was laid.
The Depression put the construction on hold after the floor and infrastructure were in. After being without a roof for 10 years, the building finally was completed through an Adrian bond issue and a Works Progress Administration grant. With the opening of the Merillat Sport and Fitness Center in 1990, Ridge once again was in a holding pattern.
Today the transformation is as handsome as it is functional with art studios, boardroom, computer rooms, an auditorium, delicatessen, student organization offices, and numerous conference rooms.
The next time I stop at the Bulldog Cafe for a bowl of soup, I might see the Caines. Adrian will be their permanent home after retirement and what better place to grab a bite than the Stanley P. Caine Student Center?
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