NORFOLK, NE – Dr. Bill Path called having his name associated with a new residence hall at Northeast Community College, “The greatest professional honor for which I could ever hope.”
Path, former Northeast president and now president of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, OK, spoke during a dedication ceremony Thursday of the new Path Hall and the adjacent Hawks Point dining facility on the Northeast campus here.
Speaking to a crowd inside Hawks Point, Path said he had no words to adequately express the depth of his gratitude.
“To stand here and be able to see my name on this beautiful student housing complex is absolutely surreal. Words really can’t describe my feelings. Such a recognition is more than anyone could possibly expect.”
Path said it is a supreme compliment to be included in such a respected group of names that have been memorialized on campus, including past presidents H.B. Simon, Allen Burkhardt, F. Don Maclay, Dr. Michael Paradise, Dr. Robert Cox, and past board of governors’ members Ken Echtenkamp, J. Paul McIntosh and Arlo Wirth, among others.
“I believe if I could live ten more lifetimes, I could never feel more honored than I do right now,” he said.
The 63,000 square Path Hall accommodates approximately 200 students and includes single bedroom and double bedroom suites, with four residents living in each suite. Study lounge spaces are available on all three floors, and a communal kitchen area on the first floor is situated near a laundry room.
The adjacent 30,000 square foot Hawks Point dining hall has a capacity of 450 people. In addition to dining areas, it includes meeting rooms, a student lounge, exercise space and a wireless, open computer lab. A convenience store also offers students access to late night coffee, snacks and other personal supplies.
Path said residence halls are more than just buildings, they are places for students to call home.
“(Residence halls) will provide them with shelter and accommodation – the domestic stability they will need to achieve their educational goals and to launch their dreams. My contribution is insignificant. It’s just a name on the side of the building, but the students will bring this building to life,” he said. “Long after my service to Northeast students is forgotten, this building will continue to serve the students of this institution. Path Hall will live on as a place of warmth and happiness, not because of my name, but because of the many students who will fill it with friendship and laughter.”
Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, said since much of Path’s career was spent in student services, it is fitting that the residence hall is named in his honor.
“During his tenure as president of Northeast from 2001-2011, Dr. Path was passionate about creating opportunities for the overall development of the College. With the naming of this building, we are ensuring that his meritorious leadership will be remembered for generations to come.”
With the opening of the new buildings, Chipps called Thursday a significant day for the College. He said especially with the opening of Path Hall, Northeast is meeting a need – for the College and the community.
“When first arriving over four years ago, I heard on multiple occasions about the housing shortage in the Northeast service area and especially in and around Norfolk. Our records showed that countless Northeast student prospects were going elsewhere largely because there was literally no room
in the inn. Thanks to a visionary board of governors, they fully supported what you are visualizing here today. This truly has become one of the most desired neighborhoods to live in Norfolk for its special amenities, convenience and safety.”
Nebraska Lt. Governor Mike Foley was among those also on hand for the occasion.
“Path Hall and Hawks Point are two fantastic, state-of-the-art facilities that will be useful additions to the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk,” he said. “These accommodations will be excellent tools used to help further the quality experience and education provided to our youth in Northeast Nebraska, which will in turn help to grow Nebraska.”
Shirley Petsche, Petersburg, chairperson of the Northeast Board of Governors, said Path Hall and Hawks Point are the product of many discussions by the board and administration over a period of years.
“The board enthusiastically approved this project after seeing a true need. Student success and student access are among the board’s priorities through Northeast’s Vision 2020 strategic plan. The dedication of this addition to our campus provides one more step in the right direction.”
Amanda Nipp, vice president of student services, said there is a reason Northeast worked hard to get additional student housing on campus.
“Students who live on campus are frequently shown to have higher grade point averages and retention rates than those students who live off campus. These students have easy access to their classes and instructors, they are only a short walk away, versus a drive across town. Students are also that much closer to student support services, such as tutors and advisors.”
Nipp said another factor is an increase in student engagement.
“On-campus students get to interact with individuals from across the state, and with all of our international students, from across the world! They become part of a community that you will never really be able to replicate again outside of this college-experience.”
Chartwells Higher Education serves as Northeast’s food service provider. Dan Eusebio, regional director, said the opening of Hawks Points also represents a proud moment for Chartwells.
“Path Hall and the Hawks Point are perfect examples of Northeast Community College’s commitment to provide a first-class education to many communities in, around and beyond Nebraska. This space has been thoughtfully designed by Chartwells and the College to help nurture student growth and develop life-long friendships, and it is our privilege to be a part of that success.”
Student Kayla Langer, Spalding, serves as a resident assistant in Path Hall, one of the trained peer leaders who supervise those living in the residence halls and student apartments. She said during the ceremony that in addition to being so close to classes and 24-hour support, she enjoys the sense of community Hawks Village brings to campus.
“Since the addition of Path Hall, I’ve noticed a major change in the attitude and community here at Northeast. I see more students on the walkway heading to and from class, eating together at the cafeteria every day, and making new friends and building relationships with one another. It brings me joy to know that these wonderful students of Northeast are getting the full college experience, because there’s really no better way to do it.”
The name of the dining facility, Hawks Point, is derived from the mascot of the college. Together, the new buildings join Simon and Burkhardt residence halls, also named for former Northeast presidents, and two student apartment buildings, to form an area known as Hawks Village. Approximately 550 students live in Hawks Village.