If You Build It…
Landis House gets a makeover and new residents
by Michelle Simmons
March 9, 2010
Shalom Staub, Paula Lima Jones and Susannah Bartlow settle into Landis House, the new interdivisional home for their offices and programs.
The paint is fresh and the carpet stylish. And as the new residents of Landis House on the corner of North College and Pomfret streets settle in, they also are finding new opportunities for collaboration.
In January, the Women’s Center, the Office of Diversity Initiatives (ODI) and the Conflict Resolution Resource Center (CRRC) moved into the former home of the economics department, which relocated to the newly renovated Althouse Hall.
“We needed a space that was conducive to community building and program development,” said Paula Lima Jones, director of ODI. “I don’t know if the hustle and bustle of the Holland Union Building [ODI’s former location] encouraged that. There’s a lot of busyness, but not always community.”
Landis House was the family home of Lois Lowry, Newbery Medal-award winner. Originally owned by her grandfather Merkel Landis, class of 1896, the house was the setting for her popular young-adult novel, Autumn Street. When President William G. Durden ’71 announced in the fall that the Women’s Center would be located there, he pointed to the house’s notable history and its longtime connection to Dickinson.
The new configuration of office space, meeting rooms and resource areas is deliberately informal, offering a casual yet safe and confidential atmosphere. The house also is home to the new YWCA victim advocate’s office, accessible through a private rear door.
“It really was a convergence of needs—private-mediation space, a public-resource area and student and administrative offices,” said Susannah Bartlow, director of the Women’s Center.
Shalom Staub, assistant provost of academic affairs and director of the CRRC, said that having the three offices share Landis House helps students connect learning and living. “This crosses college divisions—not just in program linkages but across student development and academic affairs,” he said.
Student organizations such as Spectrum, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, and Sustained Dialogue, a diversity-focused group under the auspices of the CRRC, already are meeting there. More informal gatherings include a student-run book group sponsored by the Women’s Center, a writing workshop for the play The Vagina Monologues and a klatch of activism-oriented students and faculty.
Plans are afoot to schedule fall courses in the spruced-up seminar room. In addition, resource materials, services and meeting rooms are available to faculty and staff.
The house is a work in progress, with further renovations to occur during the summer. Lima Jones anticipates a wide range of programming possibilities—from seminars to faculty-student mixers to movie nights. “For me, it’s very interesting to be here,” she said. “The physical space speaks to opportunities for the kinds of programs and communities you can build.”