Derby Dining Center renovations aim for improved dining experience, community environment

The renovations in Derby Dining Center will not get rid of the long community tables. "We really listened to the students, and they said they love those tables," said Derek Jackson, director of Housing and Dining Services and associate vice president of student life. (Julian Naber | Collegian Media Group)

Renovations to Derby Dining Center began this summer and are scheduled to continue into the school year.

“The Derb,” as many students call it, opened 1965. Since then, it has received only minor tweaks and changes. Derek Jackson, associate vice president for student life and director of Housing and Dining Services, said this project is its first real renovation.

The goal, Jackson said, is to create continuity between dining centers on campus. Kramer Dining Center is the model for the project in terms of open space, natural light and food prepared in front of guests.

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A potential design for the main entrance of the Derby Dining Center after renovation. (Courtesy photo by Housing and Dining Services)

Jackson said students will experience a different kind of service from Derby’s “cafeteria-style” feel and have more of a hand in how their food is prepared as well as increased opportunities to build relationships with staff.

“We have a lot of friendly people who enjoy what they do on behalf of students, so let’s bring them forward and let them be part of the team,” Jackson said.

Derby will keep its long communal tables used by many students for dinners with their residence hall floors.

“We really listened to the students, and they said they love those tables,” Jackson said.

Overall, Jackson said the renovated Derby will be an open and inviting space for students to spend their time in community with one another.

The first floor will also be updated in hopes of encouraging students to spend more time in Derby, even when they’re not eating.The plans include higher ceilings, large windows and the addition of study rooms and co-working spaces for students.

One concern of students living in the Derby Complex in the past has been the inconvenience of multiple staircase entryways all feeding directly into a different food line. Students essentially have to decide what they’re going to eat before entering the dining center, and the line system often causes traffic issues for students trying to get around.

The renovation will include the closing of each individual entrance and open a new, main stairway that Jackson said will lead students into an open space where they can then choose what line to get in.

Andrew Kofoid, sophomore in business administration, will be returning to live in the Derby Complex for his second year this fall. He said Derby featured “lots of options and nice open seating for large groups.”

Kofoid said his one qualm was the lack of a bathroom.

“One of the biggest complaints since the building was built was that there were no bathrooms,” Jackson said. “Yes, we’ll have bathrooms up there in the seating area with this renovation.”

Behind the scenes, Derby will undergo safety and mechanical updates that Jackson said will improve the often unstable temperatures of the complex as well as the overall environment.

Renovations are scheduled to be completed in two sections, one in August 2020 and the other in December of 2020.

Derby Dining Center will continue to serve students as renovations occur throughout the upcoming school year. According to a statement made by Housing and Dining Services, the department will work closely with students to minimize inconvenience.