by Erich Kaletka
The sounds of construction may soon return to Kenyon’s campus.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee sent out a survey to students on Feb. 26 inquiring which project on the College’s Master Plan they would like to see undertaken first. Most students listed a new library as the change they would most prefer to see on campus. The survey, which was distributed via a Student-Info email on Feb. 26, received 583 responses out of the approximately 1,700 enrolled students. The results went to the College’s administration and will be shared with the Board of Trustees during their meeting next week, according to Daniel Johnson ’15, a member of student government and chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
“The purpose [of the survey] was to give the administration a ballpark of the students’ feelings about how the Master Plan should be carried out,” Johnson said. “I hope [the administration] do a more official and comprehensive poll to gauge student opinion.”
Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said the survey information, as well as additional feedback from the Buildings and Grounds Committee and the Housing and Dining Committee, went to an ad hoc committee of the Board of Trustees.
“[They have] been looking at the overall process of prioritizing projects that are outlined in the master plan and other projects that we’ve identified. So that’s an ongoing board discussion about how we prioritize going forward,” Kohlman said.
But the survey results are just a part of the plan. “There’s a lot of factors that go into making those decisions and feedback from different constituencies, planning, funding, all those kind of things have to come together before the final decision is made.”
Vice President of Library and Information Services (LBIS) Ron Griggs said “one of the goals of the library is to integrate academic and other student services. A new building could make more space for those services.”
Griggs added that the Greenslade Special Collections and Archives may be expanded, and that there is a possibility of the Career Development Office (CDO) moving to the library. However, Griggs said the current Olin and Chalmers Libraries spaces are functioning as fully as they can.
“We may be at the limit of what we can do with the current buildings, and students react to the fact that the library doesn’t have the capacity for everything they need,” Griggs said. “The library feels small.”
Amy Badertscher, associate vice president of LBIS, said that in attempting to figure out where to go, the College must assess what it has.
“Chalmers is a big rectangle, and we’ve pretty much maximized what we can do with that space,” Badertscher said. “Olin, on the other hand, is a different story, having stack space pretty much floor to ceiling. It’s harder to figure out how to work with that.” Badertscher said the only real options for further modernization of the library are constructing a completely new building — preferably in the same location — or a major renovation of Olin.
Griggs, however, acknowledges that regardless of student input the college will make the final decision.
Badertscher said that “regardless of what happens for us, thinking of a new library is thinking of how to continue to offer the services we do and making it as flexible as we can.”
The Board of Trustees will meet to discuss aspects of the Master Plan, among other issues, from April 23-25 on campus.