Staying with the Master Plan

I have been asked to summarize over a year of work in about 500 words. There is a lot to cover, so bear with me …

During my junior year at Colgate, after a few months of advocating for a new student center through my position on the Executive Board of the Student Government Association, I was asked to be one of two student representatives on the Campus Master Planning Committee which began meeting in the late Spring/Summer of 2012. We discussed how Colgate is a university with a unique set of concerns shaped by location, student body and aspirations.

In the end, we decided that Sasaki Associates, Inc. was the firm that stood the best chance at analyzing the complexities of our culture and providing us with a plan to address both our current and potential future needs. Now that my time at Colgate is nearly over, the Maroon-News thought that I might be able to shed some light on the Campus Master Plan from not only the student perspective, but also from an alumni perspective since I am about to embark on that path. I am confident that the sentiment of the student body will be well considered by Sasaki. I believe that while the current student opinion should be one of the driving factors, without continued significant involvement by our alumni, the project will not be as successful as possible.

CONCERNS:  1) Focus: A refocusing of the University after the administrators settle in to their new positions. Historically, many master plans are funded at great expense only to be left unfinished  because of passing administrative conerns that siphon money away. Of even greater concern, these plans can be implemented by a new governing body that does not recall or understand the true sentiment behind the plan, and thus implements the plan in a way that damages the fragile culture within the University itself. Continuity of involvement is, therefore, critical. 2) Construction: Building a single building is a serious funding consideration for any university. One of the key aspects of the plan is the demolition and rebuilding of over 30 percent of our current housing stock. 3) Politics: Leaders must ensure against any political interference regardless of its source from those who might undermine the integrity of the plan.

Despite the fact that I will be leaving this institution shortly and taking up a role as an active alumnus, I take solace in the fact that Colgate’s alumni are a solicitous group and that most of these concerns can be easily addressed by their participation in the process.

Though designed primarily by the input of current students, faculty and staff, what this plan really represents is the agreement of the next generation of alumni on a vision of Colgate that they want to share with their children. Furthermore, since the existence of funding essentially is the last piece of all decisions on the implementation of this plan, it means that the alumni now have a tool to implement change on campus in a manner that is virtually guaranteed to benefit everyone. I am not advocating that alumni with a particularly strong connection to a specific facet of campus life alter their financial support. I am asking that those alumni who have failed to see a reason to give in the past become involved more deeply with their university.

While I recognize the importance of unrestricted gifts, I advocate that the readers of this article, whether students, staff or alumni, become involved again with shaping Colgate as a home for intellectualism not only in programming, but through the wonder imposed by the physical attributes of the campus as well. If this has to be done through even the smallest of gifts or allotment of time being channeled through a fund or office that guarantees adherence to the plan, then so be it. It is the alumni who charge the administration with the stewardship of their alma mater, but it is also the alumni who are responsible for fostering Colgate’s growth as the faculty and the university has fostered theirs. Do not let the future shape of Colgate crumble on a bookshelf as a result of the weathering effects of time.

Contact Joe Trapp at [email protected].