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Plans call for an 800-square-foot welcome center that will house security and a student team to greet Berry College's many visitors to campus and to offer information and maps.

Berry College plans to welcome visitors in a whole new way. Literally.

Construction is under way at the campus in Rome, Ga., on a new welcome center and enhanced vehicle entrance at its main campus entry.

"Berry is already one of Northwest Georgia's primary tourist destinations, and we hope the new welcome center will make the visitor experience even more enjoyable," said Alex Whitaker, chief of staff at Berry College.

"The new welcome center will replace the college's existing small gatehouse, which as Berry has grown is no longer suitably positioned or sufficient to meet the campus' security needs or to assist guests," Whitaker said.

The 800-square-foot welcome center is planned to be completed by early next year.

"It will be a simple but beautiful structure," Whitaker said.

The plan for the new vehicle entrance is to add a traffic lane for visitors, allowing members of the Berry community and frequent visitors to enter through an advanced gate system and bypass traffic caused by visitors.

"This new facility will enable us to greet and assist our many visitors, whether they are here for a college visit or event, or to see our bald eagles' nest, or simply to enjoy the incomparable beauty of the grounds," Whitaker said.

The welcome center and new vehicle entrance are just the beginning of programs and projects that the college hopes to fund through its $100 million LifeReady fundraising campaign that was announced in May.

So far the campaign has secured $70 million, said Chris Kozelle, the director of news and editorial services at Berry College.

"We hope the campaign will be transformative for the college over the next 10 years," Kozelle said.

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at or at 423-757-6592.