GOSHEN — The Goshen College Union Building has reopened its doors after an eight-month renovation project, welcoming visitors to the new Hunsberger Commons, which is home to the Hunsberger Haitian Art Collection and the relocated Juanita Lark Welcome Center, as well as an overhauled Leaf Raker Cafe.

The main corridor of the Union has been turned into the Hunsberger Commons, a collaborative meeting space combining meeting spaces and art, recapturing the Union’s central role as the campus crossroads.

“The hope is that these new spaces bring together food, art, people and hospitality in new and joyful ways,” said Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus. “These spaces will welcome conversations across the generations and across the academic disciplines, increase our interactions and widen our welcome to our neighbors.”

A lead gift by Arlin and Naomi Hunsberger of Goshen and Michael and Susan Hunsberger of Havelock North, New Zealand, kicked off the Union Renovation Project, with key support from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County and AVI Foodsystems, the college’s food service partner. Financial support was also provided by Goodville Mutual Casualty Co., Lake City Bank, Interra Credit Union and 32 individual donors.

A reception to honor the Hunsbergers and other donors was held in the space on Aug. 30. Students and employees were also welcomed into the space in the days leading up to the opening.

Hunsberger Haitian Art Collection

In 1962, while Goshen College Director Emeritus of International Education Arlin and Naomi Hunsberger, Class of ’55, were working in Haiti with Mennonite Central Committee, they took notice of the local art, the college said. As they became familiar with local artists and galleries, this interest turned into a passion, feeding a desire to learn more about the country they had come to love.

Over multiple assignments and trips to Haiti, they amassed a collection with approximately 90 pieces of art, one of the premier and a significant collections of Haitian art in the United States. The Hunsberger Commons has become a permanent home to their Haitian art collection, which makes the space colorful and expressive of Goshen’s international engagement.

“We are honored to pass along this collection of art for future generations of students, faculty and visitors that it might inspire an understanding of Haitian culture and the fascinating world of Haitian art,” Arlin and Naomi Hunsberger said. “Most of all we hope that it brings pleasure and enjoyment. ... It makes us happy to know that the wonderful talent of these world renowned artists will be accessible to the public.”

The collection can be viewed any time the Union Building is open, and is free and open to the public.

Juanita Lark Welcome Center

The Juanita Lark Welcome Center has moved from the north end of the Union Building to a larger and more welcoming space at the south entrance of the building. The Welcome Center is named in honor of Juanita Jewell Lark, a 1943 graduate and the college’s first African-American student.

While at Goshen College, she was a member of the Vesperian Literary Society, A Cappella Chorus, Bible Circle, German Club, Home Economics Club and played as a guard on the champion junior-senior women’s intramural basketball team.

This newly renovated space will be the first stop for campus visitors and guests, and particularly prospective students and their families.

Leaf Raker Cafe

In partnership with AVI Foodsystems, the college’s food service provider, the Leaf Raker Cafe has been updated with state-of-the-art kitchen equipment and an improved layout to become a dining facility accessible and inviting to the broader community, as well as the campus community

It includes updated seating and an attractive outdoor terrace. A new menu combines regional all-American breakfast and lunch favorites with a contemporary culinary twist, including some international flair. The cafe also serves Starbucks coffee and drinks, and to-go options.

The cafe is open to the public on Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekend hours will vary. Learn more at aviserves.com/goshen/leaf-raker.

Plans for the building include the relocation of the bookstore this fall from the east side of the building to the north end, where the Welcome Center was previously located.

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