College discusses 2020 Master Plan with architects

Samuel Casey

News Editor

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, a meeting was held with Hastings+Chivetta, an architectural firm that specializes in campus master planning. According to an email that day from Dean of Students Scott Brown, students were invited to participate in this open forum to “provide input on key issues for the 2020 Master Plan.” The email elaborated that “campus master planning at the College has been in place since 1900.” This meeting was separate from the open sessions held recently regarding the Lowry Center renovations.

In attendance from Hastings+ Chivetta were Project Manager Carl Drafall, Programmer Nancy Sopuch and Project Designer Tom Anagnos. The meeting was also attended by several members of the administration and eight students. Mike Taylor, associate vice president for Facilities, Design and Con- struction, went into detail about what a master plan is and why the College needs it.

“A campus master plan is a physical manifestation of our college’s strategic plan,” he said. “At its best, it is a road map for the future of a campus, and becomes a crucial tool in confirming that short-term projects are working in conjunction with long- term plans and goals.”

The meeting started with a presentation by Anagnos focused on understanding the 2020 Master Plan objectives, providing an update on the 2012 Master Plan and opening up the floor the students for their input. He explained that this was the first “workshop” of five (amongst several other meetings) to develop the Mas- ter Plan that will culminate with a presentation to the Board of Trustees currently scheduled for May 28- 30, 2020.

Regarding the 2012 Master Plan, Anagnos explained that some of the goals were accomplished while others were not. Accomplishments included the phased renovations of Andrews, Armington and Stevenson Halls, suite-style living in Gault School- house, the construction of Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science and the upcoming renovation of the Lowry Center. Objectives that were not yet completed would be prioritized in the 2020 Master Plan. This includes the expansion of parking, a new roof for McGaw Chapel and notably, the repurposing of L.C. Boles Memorial Golf Course.

There are four main objective areas for the upcoming Master Plan: campus-wide issues, academics, student life and athletics.

Two students in attendace, Tristan Donohoe ’20 and Emmy Todd ’22, focused on student life, specifically the housing options and their condition. Donohoe emphasized the importance of volunteer program houses on campus and his recommendation for those to be options in the future if the current houses were torn down.“Basically, I wanted to make sure the improvements to student housing (specifically program houses) were going to hold precedence in the 2020 Master Plan for the campus,” Donohoe stated. “I tried to bring to [the firm’s] attention how unique the program houses are for Wooster; I really do think there’s great potential to keep students engaged with the community outside of the College in a positive, productive manner.”

While Donohoe expressed his support for program houses, he also ac- knowledged they are in disrepair. “I emphasized the health threats the current state of the program houses pose for students, as well as concerns over accessibility,” he said.

Todd echoed those sentiments and added that residence halls are also in bad shape.“I would like the College to focus on program houses and residence halls such as Bissman and Holden,” Todd said. “[These] are the residence halls I see being the worst off and [have been] neglected for a very long time. Program houses are also some of the worst options for housing on campus … Many houses have issues with their heating, number of bathrooms and just general upkeep such as peeling paint, crumbling molding and common rooms in disarray.”

Regarding the athletics objective, the presenters raised the possibility of getting rid of the golf course, which is free for students, and using the land for other projects, such as new tennis courts, expanded parking and more sports fields. According to Vice President of Finance & Business James Prince, the College is currently operating the course at a loss.

Representatives from the firm took notes throughout and asked several questions directly to students. Taylor elaborated on the importance of these conversations.

“Speaking directly to our archi- tects will help them fit together per- spectives that will connect people and resources and result in the plan that is best for our entire campus community,” he said. “We encourage students to attend upcoming sessions and share their thoughts on how the College of Wooster campus can best accommodate their needs now and in the future.”

Regarding the financial aspect of these projects, Vice President for Ad- vancement Wayne Webster stated, “It’s still too early in the process to discuss how philanthropy will play a role in making the Master Plan a reality. The first priority is to identify our needs and the vision for campus over the next seven to 10 years.”