December update on the Thomas Commons project

Cornell College’s largest ongoing initiative to improve campus life is the Thomas Commons renovation  and construction project. Renovating the busiest building on campus over 18 months while it remains in  operation is quite an engineering challenge. Making adjustments in how and when services are offered and dealing with fluctuations in the availability of rooms are necessary compromises in order for the phased renovation approach to continue on schedule. The goal is for all dining facilities to be ready beginning in August, 2013, and the overall project to be completed by December, 2013.

Please note the following details about the project and related adjustments to dining services for the first part of the spring semester.

Dining Hall

At the conclusion of this block, half of the west dining room (where the salad bar is) will be closed for the remainder of the academic year. A construction wall will be placed about five feet north of the salad bar, which will remain in operation. Demolition behind that wall will begin immediately so that a new grill station can be constructed and opened later in the spring semester. If more of the west dining room needs to be taken off-line during the spring semester, the salad bar and remaining tables and chairs will be relocated. Also, a construction wall will be built along the dish room wall (facing the south dining room).

These physical changes will not result in a reduction of the total number of tables and chairs in the dining hall, nor in the daily menu items or hours of operation.

Dining service adjustments related to renovation in the west dining room include:

  • Tables and chairs north of the salad bar will be moved to the east and south dining rooms.
  • The Sandwich Station will be moved to the east dining room, replacing the Global Station.
  • Global station menu items will be served from the scramble area.


As previously announced, at the conclusion of this semester the Rathskellar will close for the remainder of the academic year. Demolition will begin immediately so that construction of a new kitchen and expanded servery counter can commence. Construction walls will be placed south and north of the existing Ratt counter and kitchen. The tiered section of the Ratt will remain accessible as a place to bring meals, hang out, or reserve for activities. Access will be through the doorway in the Hedges/Shaw corridor. The north construction wall will consume a small portion of the lounge outside of the Ratt, but tables and chairs will remain in that area.

Dining service adjustments related to the Ratt being closed for the spring semester include:

  • A “Grab-n-Go” outlet will be opened in Cole Library featuring coffee and other beverages, pastries, fruit, sandwiches, salads, and other packaged fresh items. Just like in the Ratt, flex dollars, cash and credit cards will be accepted, and the meal exchange option will be available. This outlet will be located just inside the main entrance from the Ped Mall.
  • An After Hours program will be operated in the dining hall from 9 p.m.-12 a.m. Thursday through Sunday each week, and Monday and Tuesday of the fourth weeks of each block. Pizza, chicken fingers, burgers and other grilled sandwiches, along with packaged items and bottled beverages, will be available for purchase with flex dollars, cash or credit cards.
  • Coffee and other breakfast items “to go” can be purchased with flex dollars, cash or credit cards in the dining hall between 7:30-9 a.m.

Please direct questions to John Harp or Gwen Schimek, Assistant Dean of Students/Director of Student Life, at