Mar 19, 2021 | NEWS | By Aidan Luter | Images courtesy of Colorado College

On Feb. 9, 2021, Colorado College announced the construction of the Mike and Barbara Yalich Student Services Center. The center will be located adjacent to the Ed Robson Arena, both of which are projected to open this fall.

The $500,000 gift to be used for the construction of the center was donated by the Inasmuch Foundation in honor of alumni Barbara Neeley Yalich ’53 and her late husband Milo “Mike” Yalich ’50.

The Inasmuch Foundation was founded in 1982 by CC alumna Edith Kinney Gaylord ’36. The foundation is now run by Bob Ross, who is a member of CC’s Board of Trustees.

“Bob was looking for a way to honor Barbara Yalich with a gift from the Inasmuch Foundation that would honor her service both to the foundation as well as to Colorado College,” said Preston Briggs, a Senior Major Gifts Officer for CC. “Barbara was part of CC as a student and then later the Alumni Office and Development Office. She played a huge role in the growth of the college as well as a huge role in the local community.”

The involvement of Barbara Yalich also has a connection to the center’s focus on health and wellbeing.

“The student services building just seemed like the perfect fit to honor the Yalichs,” Briggs said. “Barbara, early in her career in nonprofit work in Colorado Springs, was actually pretty active in the health and mental health space.”

“Barbara Yalich has demonstrated throughout her career a real investment and commitment to wellbeing and to mental health,” Heather Horton, Director of the Wellness Resource Center, said. “So, having someone like that be associated with our work and our offices is really exciting.”

The construction of a new student services center comes with the consolidation of health and wellbeing resources. The second floor will house the Counseling Center, the Student Health Center, the Wellness Resource Center, and the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

“Having all of those services collocated has a lot of benefits and is consistent with some of the things that we’re trying to do as an institution,” Horton said, “which is to move toward a more integrated health and wellbeing program, where things would feel more seamless to students rather than these very separate entities.”

“I certainly hope that one of the things that students will see with this move is an elevation of the profile of those offices and services and programs,” Horton said. “By putting health and wellbeing into this new building, building some state-of-the-art facilities … I hope students would see that the college is invested in those things. Invested in student mental health, in student wellbeing generally.”

The new center will not just be a space for health offices, however. It will also hold a new bookstore, mail center, and art studio. CC hopes that it can be a space with many purposes, including a new café and pub.

“There’s something very intentional in the word ‘pub’, because it conveys something different than ‘bar’,” said Rochelle T. Dickey, CC’s Acting Dean of Students and Acting Vice President for Student Life. “A pub is a place for responsible drinking and socializing. It’s focusing on building community and people coming together, not just a place where people go to drink … That’s the priority of the thinking of having a pub there … how does it serve the wellness initiatives of the college?”

Heather Horton hopes to get the student body involved and invested in this new facility.

“I’m going to be collaborating with Lynnette DiRaddo, who is running the arts and crafts program this year, and is a fiber artist, to do a project where we will be asking students to help us essentially decorate fabric and help us turn that fabric into ottoman seating,” Horton said. “So, wanting students to feel that sense of investment and participation. Hopefully that will just be a start to that connection to creative and artistic connections with health and wellbeing.”

The college hopes that as an extension of the new Robson Arena, the center can be a valuable space for students in many ways.

“It’s more than just one service, it’s multiple destinations, multiple services, a wonderful gathering space for our students on campus,” said Dickey. “I think it’s really important to reframe how some people think of the Robson Arena. Some people simply think it’s a place for the hockey team, and it is so much more than that. It’s a place for all students to come and be welcome.”

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