Earlier this week, I scheduled an interview with President Hutton for The Tangerine, as I also work as the Assistant News Editor for the paper. The topic was the new Todd and Jen Hutton Sports and Recreation Center, as it is formally known. We students, however, have given the new facility the nickname of “The Hutt,” and even more simply, “The Dome.”
Since President Hutton had announced his retirement plans just as the construction of the then unnamed dome was about to begin, the alum who funded much of the costs insisted that it be named after the president and his wife. Now normally, college policy would prohibit buildings from being named after current faculty and administrators, but the donor was very set upon naming it after the president to commemorate his dedication to the college over his many years as president.
Upon walking into his office, President Hutton asked if I had seen the dome in person yet, to which I said no. He quite enthusiastically said that we should go and take a walkthrough together. This was a bit of surprise, but a good one nonetheless. We hopped into his car and took a drive down to The Hutt, and he shared little anecdotes about lots of different things on the campus; his nostalgia was clearly showing.
As we pulled up to the door, we walked into a lovely little lobby that featured a new concession stand, some offices and some tables for students and visitors to sit down at. We then passed through a set of revolving doors and entered the actual dome itself. I looked across the massive room and to the ceiling and a “wow” slipped out of my mouth. I was bewildered and amazed by the enormousness of the building.
President Hutton took care to point out all of the new facilities that were contained within. From the Wi-Fi to the removable tennis courts, he appeared to have every detail completely memorized. We walked along the path of the track to the opposite side of the dome to find students engaged in a lacrosse game on a three-quarter size field. What was remarkable, however, was that it was three quarters the size of a football field, yet it only took up about a sixth of the facility.
My awe did not stop there, nor did the President’s enthusiasm. He explained to me all the new events that could be held in the building in the coming years and all of the new opportunities that it presented. Moreover, when a visiting potential student came passing through, President Hutton took a moment to introduce himself and continue discussing the dome with both myself and the potential student.
The hype that has surrounded the building in the past few months was completely justified. It is one of the largest freestanding domes in North America and understandably so. Although do to fire codes, it is only zoned for athletic events at the current time, the potential that it offers down the road is limitless. Personally, I hope that one day, graduation will be held there, both for the sake of being able to walk out of the dome and back onto the campus with a diploma in hand.
On Dec. 12th, Utica College will be hosting its first track meet of the season. It will be held in the Todd and Jen Hutton Sports and Recreation Center and will be the first of many to be held there. I cannot wait to be there for the event, as I imagine that it will truly be something to remember in years to come.
Things are really starting to change here at Utica College, and definitely for the better. The excitement grows every day and the opportunities do to match. It really makes me wish I had more time to spend here to see what else lies down the road for UC.