By Heather Fabritze
Following a months-long planning initiative launched by American with Disabilities Act
advocates and library staff, renovations continue to be underway on the Clifton M. Miller
Memorial Library terrace.
Starting in February of last semester, members of the Washington College community began to
push for increased accessibility at the favorite study spot of many students. Their overall
mission was to create a larger, more accessible terrace for everyone on campus.
According to the Dean of Library and Academic Technology Dr. Mary Alice Ball, the
Maryland Independent College and University Association provided part of the funding to
accomplish their goals. The organization rotates grant recipients each year from one institution to
WC alum Donald Owings ‘55 also made an extensive donation to the library following his
passing, allowing the staff to pour more funds into the project.
Overview of the process fell under the jurisdiction of Director of Facilities Stan Yeakel and
project manager Victor Costa. The team selected to conduct the physical installation was
Renovations formally began on Monday, June 19. The project design for the terrace includes
two separate entries from the Cater Walk, as well as an improved ramp and stairs on the pathway
from William Smith Hall. Like many advocates last year, Dr. Ball felt that the original ramp was
“too steep” and not ADA accessible.
According to Dr. Ball, the upper and lower terrace will be split between two levels for different
intended purposes. The latter will be made up of an open layout with seating and tables designed
to accommodate a fluctuation of student groupings, while the former will be used for outdoor
classrooms and quiet study areas.
Not only will these changes make access to the terrace easier for everyone, but the split levels
will allow for more use of events and organizational gatherings.
“I think it’ll be a much more exciting space for people to operate in…So it’ll be more
accessible,” Dr. Ball said. “It’ll be safer. It’ll also be beautiful.”
The existing trees and natural decorations will remain the same, with goals to install a few
more plants that are native to the Eastern Shore. The team also plans to build a path through the
central plot of trees.
In the process of construction, a sewer line caused a portion of the Cater Walk to sink. The
team temporarily diverted focus to redo part of the pathway before the freshmen arrived for
To block off access and contain the construction zone, the construction team erected a fence
around the terrace. The main doors of the Miller Library are not in use, with visitors only able to
enter the building through the rear door and Sophie’s Cafe.
Dr. Ball said that the team’s current priority is to get access to the main doors as quickly as
Although the library was closed off, students and visitors could still access resources like
education technology, the HelpDesk, and the Office of Academic Skills remotely or via an
Once the Terrace is completed, Dr. Ball said that she wants the terrace to grow even beyond
being a common place to study.
“I’ve been worried about students’ mental health coming out of the pandemic,” Dr. Ball said. “I
was saying to someone the other day, we are still in pandemic times in some ways. And so I like
this [renovation] because you can sit with some friends or come here and make a friend…just
congregate and enjoy the spot out there. And be close because it’s such a central location.”
According to the sign posted outside the construction site, the projected end date for the project
is November. Dr. Ball hopes, though, that their current phase in the project indicates an October
Photo courtesy of Heather Fabritze
Photo Caption: Construction teams work on the foundation of the Miller Library terrace this summer