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Notes from 9/30/14 Town Hall Meeting Regarding Campus Master Plan

The first of a series of Town Hall Meetings related to the ongoing development of the Manhattan College Campus Master Plan was held on Sept. 30, 2014. Members of Perkins Eastman, the lead consulting company for the Master Plan, gave a presentation of their ongoing research on campus facilities and space that began last spring. Afterwards, they led a discussion among school faculty, staff, administration and students centered on the theme of Best and Worst Places on Campus. Andrew Ryan, vice president for facilities, described the development of the Master Plan as “a critically important time for the college.”

What is a Master Plan?

The alignment of the physical assets of the college with its institutional mission. It consists of determining the future use of campus space and facilities in the interest of sustainability and meeting potential needs for the college.

What has Perkins Eastman done so far as part of their research?

Consultants have conducted between 30 and 40 interviews with various members of faculty, administration and the student body. Since last spring, they have taken an inventory of existing space on campus and assessed the physical condition of all campus buildings. Additionally, they have reviewed all departmental space requests. All of this is part of the Discovery phase of the project—learning what Manhattan College is about and its physical needs on a facilities level.

Faculty and staff from nearly every department were represented at the Town Hall meeting. Photo by Sean McIntyre

Faculty and staff from nearly every department were represented at the Town Hall meeting. Photo by Sean McIntyre

Campus Impressions and Feedback

Three Campus Zones

Manhattan College’s campus can be split up into three zones with the following characteristics:

North (Main Campus)

  • Strong classically collegiate architecture
  • Contained and separate from community neighbors
  • Green feel with notable hilltop character
  • Successful circulation among pedestrians

Middle (Student Commons)

  • The “connecting hinge” between north and south campus
  • Modern architectural feel
  • Transitional zone.

South (Sciences and Engineering)

  • Industrial
  • Gritty
  • Part of larger city grid

 

Key Points from Review Presentation

-Majority (63% of square footage) of campus facilities over 50 years old.

-33,000 square feet (including Smith auditorium) now vacant with opening of Student Commons -College and student body about the right size for current facilities, but growth possible in graduate programs with expanded use of classrooms in evenings.

Academic

  • Labs and classrooms are generally old fashioned and out of date
  • Faculty office space is constrained
  • Based on interviews with people on campus, strong desire for space that allows students and faculty to come together
  • Larger space needed for Center for Academic Success

Student Life

  • Size, people and location are what make MC special
  • General sense of excitement on campus for opening of Student Commons
  • Commuter students are an important part of college
  • Success of basketball team great for school spirit

Athletics

  • No ‘wow’ factor present in facilities
  • Space deficiencies exist in terms of training facilities, locker rooms, etc.
  • Long-term possibility to replace or renovate Draddy Gymnasium

Housing

  • Currently on-campus housing is at 98% capacity
  • Existent of 10-man suites shows stress on capacity levels
  • Possible need for more upperclassmen apartments—Overlook Manor is oversubscribed because students desire independence later in their college careers

Overall Themes

  • The school of engineering needs better facilities and labs, especially because it is such an important and large part of the college
  • No performance arts theater even with the opening of the Student Commons
  • Updating of older buildings needed
  • The quad is one of the keystones of existing campus facilities but still needs general maintenance

Possible General Theme of Master Plan

Old and new working together.

Meeting attendants placed stickers on their favorite and least favorite spots on campus. Photo by Sean McIntyre

Meeting attendants placed stickers on their favorite and least favorite spots on campus. Photo by Sean McIntyre

Points from Group Discussion:

Alumni Hall and Draddy Gymnasium: Athletic facilities are not up to par for a Division I college; they currently serve as a hindrance in recruiting athletes and hurt the branding of the college.

Hayden Hall: Existing science labs are not safe because they are so outdated. Many leaks throughout the building and problems with HVAC systems that are either faulty or non-existent.

Accessibility Issues: With frequent elevation changes and challenging topography of surroundings, campus is not very accessible for those with handicaps or disabilities.

Academics: With 40 percent of faculty having their offices and teaching spaces in Leo or RLC, there is a disconnect between north and south campus. Several audience members expressed disappointment with the physical connecting pathway between the new Student Commons and south campus, both on a visual level and with regards to safety. Both students and faculty wish that there were more green spaces around south campus.

Common Space: The faculty offices of the math department were cited as one of the few set-ups on campus where offices are arranged around a common space where students can meet and work together. While there can be trade-off with noise, it is a space that brings students and faculty together. Faculty members also want more faculty lounges and common space that will bring about more inter-disciplinary interaction.

STEM Building: One possibility that would solve the problem of outdated laboratories and poor classroom set-ups in Leo would be the creation of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) building. While unlikely to happen due to cost and severe campus closures during required construction and renovations, moving the new STEM building to north campus and the athletic facilities to south campus (and closer to Gaelic Park) would seemingly fix many larger facility issues at the college.

The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled for some point during January 2015. Date and time TBA.

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