Campus vision plan includes a new student center

Campus vision plan includes a new student center

by Jasmynne Sloan

Simpson College’s board of trustees voted during its last meeting to build a new student center on campus with the ground breaking to come as early as spring of 2004.

“I would love for that to be the case and will personally try to make that happen,” said President R. Kevin LaGree.

Ayers-Saint-Gross Inc., a firm in Baltimore, studied the campus last year to help develop a new campus master plan and suggested a new student center.

This master plan is a physical study of the campus, including buildings and walkways on campus, as well as how parts of Simpson College are connected to the community.

The last time a master plan was drawn up for the college was over 25 years ago.

“There were many factors that had become loose ends in 25 years,” said Dennis Hunt, vice president of college advancement. “We thought it all should be looked at comprehensively and with a clear perspective.”

Ayers-Saint-Gross compiled a list of needs on campus that are a combination of immediate and long-term goals, with a new student center topping that list.

“I think a new student center is a good thing because the renovation may help attract more students to the school,” said freshman Rachel Shea.

“Ayers-Saint-Gross feels we need a new student center because students need better spaces for recreation and leisure, as well as to provide services to students outside the classroom,” said Hunt.

The board of trustees decided to add the construction of a new student center to the college’s strategic plan. The strategic plan is a short-term document that lays out the college’s goals over the next five years. Making it a part of Simpson’s strategic plan means the creation of a new student center is one step closer to reality.

Once Simpson raises approximately $8 million dollars, they plan to begin construction.

“We’ve already started the work on trying to raise money for the student center,” said LaGree.

“Our policy is that we have to have the money first.”

“I think it would be nice, but the school could use the money to improve other areas of campus,” said junior Michael Prunty.

“It doesn’t bother me as long as it doesn’t raise my tuition,” said freshman Laura Dillavou.

The current plan for the location of the new center is north of Pfeiffer Dining Hall, connecting the it with the multi-story student center. This location is in accordance with recommendations from Ayers-Saint-Gross.

“I think it’s a good idea to build a new student center, but it isn’t a good idea to put it in the park,” said junior Cindi Mefferd. “I’d rather see the land left as it is.”

Once the new center is built, Brenton will be renovated and used for the art and education departments.

There were several items that Ayers-Saint-Gross suggested that Simpson already had in its strategic plan.

One project is to expand and renovate Blank Performing Arts Center. Classroom and office space will be added to it and the building will be made handicap accessible.

Another goal is to renovate Dunn Library. It will be given a new facade, and a reading room will be added to it.

The third need that was recognized by the college is for more residence hall space. Ayers-Saint-Gross suggested adding onto Barker residence hall.

“We’ll probably add residence hall space before we build the new student center because we’re going to need it,” said LaGree.

Unlike the student center, Simpson does not have to raise money to add on to residence halls.

“We have a pattern of borrowing to fund the residence halls due to the incoming stream of residence hall fees,” said LaGree. “I think the highest priority in terms of our efforts will be the student center. Ayers-Saint-Gross showed us that it is the greatest need on campus right now.”

“There’s a general feeling out there that Brenton, by its design, is not meeting the student’s needs. It’s over 25 years old, and students’ needs are different now,” said Hunt.

Adam Gross, from Ayers-Saint-Gross, will be on campus on Nov. 14 to give two presentations, at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. At that time, there will be handouts available to describe changes the college will be making.

“We aren’t trying to keep information from students, we just don’t have it ready to present yet,” said LaGree, “Ayers-Saint-Gross commented often on what a great-looking campus we have and their plan will help us make it a more beautiful and attractive place to study and live.”