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President Alison Byerly sent the following update to the campus community today:

A few months ago, I shared information about a transformative new strategic direction designed to enhance the College’s affordability and distinctiveness by increasing the size of both the student body and faculty over the next six to eight years.

In order to accommodate this planned growth, we will need to make the most efficient use of our existing campus infrastructure as well as add some new facilities.  I write now to provide a brief update on campus planning efforts related to the future expansion.

  • In June 2017, we will break ground on a new Integrated Sciences Center (ISC) at the site currently occupied by Facilities Operations. Planning for this facility has been ongoing for some time. We are delighted to be working with Payette, a Boston architectural firm with extensive experience in college and university science facilities. This new 100,000-square-foot building will feature state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities that will support the academic needs and accomplishments of faculty and students in biology, computer science, and environmental science and environmental studies, with added space for neuroscience. The ISC will spur interaction and interdisciplinary collaboration among these programs and between them and the rest of the campus. Its flexible, reconfigurable classrooms will accommodate a wide range of pedagogical styles.  The Integrated Sciences Center will include registrar-scheduled classrooms, public meeting and study spaces, and room for expansion, and will house centers for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (IDEAL); sustainability; and inclusive pedagogies and STEM.
  • In order to add needed residential space, we will be creating several new mixed-use buildings on College Hill to house students and provide services to the College and community. These buildings, which will be added in stages as needed, will be located in the two-block area bordered by Cattell Street, McCartney Street, High Street, and Clinton Terrace. They will feature commercial or retail spaces on the first floor, with student rooms on the upper floors. The retail spaces will include the campus store, a food service venue, and a facility that will offer expanded health services for students and possibly residents from the local community. We are currently exploring partnerships with third-party developers that would minimize the impact on the College’s borrowing.
  • At a time when our space needs are increasing, we are very fortunate in having an opportunity to access excellent office space that does not require new construction. In a few months, eighty College employees will be moving from campus to downtown Easton, freeing up additional offices in the center of campus. The College will be renting three floors of the historic Alpha Building on Centre Square. Moving into this facility by January 2017 will be staff of the Communications Division, except the Athletics Communications staff in Kirby; the operations unit of Admissions; the Center for Community Engagement; and staff members of Information Technology Services Division who do not work directly with the campus community.
  • This infusion of a College presence into the center of Easton is an exciting development in the College’s continued efforts to become more connected with its hometown. If you are available, please join us for the city’s press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 2:30 p.m. outside the Alpha Building, 1 S. Third St., to learn more about how this move downtown will benefit both Easton and the College.
  • Finally, with the completion of the Williams Arts Campus, the opening of these downtown offices, and closer connections between College Hill and the downtown, we recognize that many more students and faculty will need to travel up and down College Hill. Over the last several years, students in civil engineering have undertaken projects to examine this problem and propose potential solutions, such as a “funicular” or inclined railway.  Building on those ideas, as was recently reported in the local press, we decided to explore preliminary concept designs for a possible outdoor elevator that would ascend College Hill from the Williams Arts Campus. While this is still in the discussion phase, we believe that a simple and cost-effective design could create a quick, ADA-accessible, sustainable, pedestrian-and-bike-friendly way for members of the Lafayette community to travel downtown, and for members of the Easton community to more easily visit campus for events.

While this sounds like—and is!—a lot of construction, it will take place over many years. With the exception of the ISC, these potential projects are in a preliminary stage of discussion and planning, and we will be seeking input from both the campus and local community as we move forward. More information will be available soon about open meetings we will hold on campus to review these plans and gather feedback. In addition, we will shortly launch a new website describing these facilities projects that will be updated regularly.

We will welcome our returning students and the Class of 2020 in a few short weeks, and we will communicate soon about other plans and events for the coming year. In the meantime, enjoy the remaining days of summer.

Categorized in: Alumni, Faculty and Staff, News and Features, Presidential News, Students
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  1. Joe Nechasek says:

    Elevator would be a wonderful solution for the reasons stated.

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