In my first year as WPI’s president, I would focus on buying Institute Park from the City of Worcester. The current valuation of the property is $10,465,800, a small price to pay for all the opportunities this additional property would provide WPI. For instance, as soon as WPI had ownership of Institute Park I would begin construction on two (and only two) new buildings.
The first building would be an academic building that would be geared towards providing classroom spaces for the departments that are located in Goddard Hall (Chemical Engineering, Biology/Biotechnology, Biochemistry/Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering). Currently classes for these majors are spread out across all buildings on campus so giving them a ‘home’ would be beneficial to these departments while giving the other departments on campus their space back. Ideally, I would add two new lecture halls to accommodate the large class sizes for the general science courses and the remainder of the building would be filled with smaller classrooms for the more focused classes (think GH227 and 4th floor SL classrooms). In addition, I would be sure to include ample study spaces as well as designated office space for overflow from Goddard. Lastly, in the basement of the academic building I would want to add another food court and outdoor patio (given land/space restrictions). This would help to alleviate the overcrowding in the Campus Center and Morgan Dining Halls during prime meal times.
The second building would be strictly residential for upperclassmen and it would have suite layouts similar to those in Faraday. The addition of this building would be key in adding more living spaces for upperclassmen with close proximity to WPI’s main campus, hopefully increasing the appeal to remain living in on-campus housing following freshmen year.
While the interior of these buildings would be modern and thoughtfully planned out, the exterior style of these buildings would be similar to the older buildings on campus. The goal would be to have lots of brick, stone accents and large windows. The buildings should not stick out like a sore thumb in Institute Park…they should belong.
In year 4 (?) of being president and following the completion of the two new buildings in Institute Park, I would immediately begin work on Salisbury Estates. The timing of this construction would be solely dependent on the opening of the new residential building to ensure that we are not taking away residential spaces from students. Essentially my plan for Salisbury Estates comes directly from WPI’s 5-phase athletic plan that was created many years ago. Salisbury Estates would be completely leveled and in its place would be a housing for 200+ students, a parking lot and a baseball field. The addition of a baseball field to WPI’s campus would provide many benefits to campus. For example, it would lower the travel fees for the team, increase school spirit and attendance to the games, bring in money from concessions and entrance fees and potentially draw more athletes to apply to WPI.
In year 10(?) of being president I would house the incoming freshmen class in Daniels, Morgan, Riley, Founders, Institute and Messenger. By doing this, it would allow me to begin construction on the Stoddard Complex without having taking away too many freshmen beds. The construction on the Stoddard complex would begin with a complete demolition of all buildings. In their place I would put one u-shaped building so that the courtyard remained. The building would have 3 floors of residential spaces all around (300 beds)…but on the side that borders Hackfield there would be a total of 5 floors (thank you hill). The very bottom floor would continue to house the WPI Health services office and the next floor up would be a combination of laundry and common room space. Following the completion of the construction in Stoddard Complex I would transition ALL freshmen students to housing on the top of the hill. Thus freshmen housing will be strictly dorm styled and be Daniels, Morgan, Riley, Messenger and the new Stoddard. The number of beds would limit the class size to around 1200 (or more if messenger became triples as it probably inevitably will). Upperclassmen would be moved back into founders and Institute Hall would be revamped to better suite housing upperclassmen. Once all was said and done, I would require all sophomores to live either on campus or in greek houses. This will allow them to have a transition year from dorm style to completely living on their own and it would be guaranteed income for WPI.
Outside of these major multi-year construction projects, I would complete several summer-long projects as to not interfere with academics or student life. The first of these projects would be focused on Harrington Auditorium. Essentially I would give the inside a facelift to create a more light and modern feel because it is 100 percent time to get rid of all that brown. In addition space allowing, I would try to incorporate a larger varsity weight room because when the Football team takes over the Rec Center for work outs it is slightly terrifying. I have heard that there may be ‘surprised’ in the walls of Harrington, but at some point you just have to rip off the bandaid and get started. Next I would pay some much needed attention to some of the more run down classrooms and buildings on campus (Olin? Kaven? Washburn? Stratton?). Nothing too major would be done, as all they essential need is a little love and attention. Though I will be sure to find a way to incorporate an elevator into Stratton Hall. In addition I might consider adding a discus and javelin location to the field across Park Avenue so that the Track and Field team can start hosting home meets. And Finally, I would investigate ways to add an entrance to the very ground floor of Gordon Library so the poor souls coming from Boynton Street don’t have to walk up all those stairs just to enter the library from the second floor.