First Phase of Campus Master Plan Complete

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On Monday, Nov. 26, Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray released Phase I of the Campus Master Plan to the St. Mary’s community, outlining areas of campus that are currently targets for improvement or change over the next ten to 15 years.

The document, sent via email to the entire campus, includes the process for how the Master Plan was started in March 2012, where the plan now stands after completion of the first phase, and plans to begin the second phase next semester.

The plan was started by gathering community input and consulting architectural companies like Ayers Saint Gross and Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to hold forums among community members, assess the current campus resources through a walking tour, and meet with College departments. During the first months of this semester, the Planning and Facilities staff then met with 15 academic departments to discuss spatial issues within instructional buildings, according to the document.

According to Associate Vice President of Planning and Facilities Chip Jackson, the biggest academic area of concern on campus is Montgomery Hall, which houses the Fine Arts, Art History, English, Music, and the Theater, Film and Media Studies departments.

“We knew going in that from a space standpoint, our programs in the fine and performing arts have the biggest challenges in terms of adequate space to provide their academic programs,” said Jackson. He also mentioned that student enrollment patterns within the departments increased the need for more space and can no longer provide adequately for the desired program quality.

Jackson also mentioned that recently heightened enrollment in the science departments have raised concerns about space in buildings like Schaefer Hall and Goodpaster Hall. Three new faculty lines have already been created within the biology, chemistry, and mathematics departments for fall 2013, so “if enrollments go up and we are adding faculty lines, that automatically increases the need for space,” said Jackson.

Aside from the main academic concerns, other projects brought up in the Master Plan document were the need for a new auditorium, more adequate study space within Kent Hall (which will be addressed in the new Anne Arundel Hall project), the need for better faculty office space throughout campus, the implementation of a day care, renovations to the Prince George, Caroline, Dorchester, and Queen Anne residence halls, more recreational green space, the construction of an athletic turf field, renovations or relocation of the Admissions Office, improvements to Ethel Chance Hall (Health and Counseling Center), and improvements to the Public Safety facilities.

Also according to President Joe Urgo, one of the biggest concerns is the lack of study space on North Campus. “A lot of student feedback we got expressed the need for a 24/7 student hub to be opened on North Campus. The logistics, like whether the center would serve food, is something to be addressed in phase two of the plan,” he said.

According to Jackson, not only were the current needs of the campus taken into consideration during the first phase’s construction, but also the College’s academic Strategic Plan. The five-year strategic plan, headed by Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Beth Rushing, will focus on the College’s academic goals and seek to enhance programs based on the College’s mission and community input.

“The strategic plan has to drive everything,” said Jackson. “And as that plan gets more solidly defined, we then will be in a good position to use the work we’ve done [on the Master Plan] as a foundation to be able then to respond to the strategic plan initiatives properly.”

Phase II of the Master Plan will begin in January, according to Jackson. “Phase one is defining what your problems are, and phase two is deciding how to approach solving those problems,” he said.

Jackson also noted that several groups on campus such as the SGA, Faculty Senate, a Master Planning Task Force, and the Board of Trustees Buildings and Grounds Committee have already been and will continue to be heavily involved in the plan.

Mowbray also presented the plan to the Student Government Association (SGA) on Nov. 27, familiarizing the student body with the plan’s first phase and urging student input next semester, when a series of workshops will be hosted to review and progress the plan further.

“All constituencies on campus need to be involved [in phase two],” said Urgo. “The more feedback we get, the better priorities we can set for what needs to be done.”

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