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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's develops Master Plan for campus

Saint Mary’s College is in the process of developing a new initiative called the Master Plan, aimed at realizing the College’s mission and vision, which director of facilities Benjamin Bowman said will be completed over the course of the academic year.

“A master plan for Saint Mary's College will guide short-term decisions about specific elements — from building locations to streets and even the placement of a bench or sign — so they contribute to, and achieve, the desired vision for a functional and beautiful campus,” Bowen said. “We have just started the Master Plan and have not yet defined goals for the project. More concrete ideas will be developed later in the process, most likely by mid-spring semester.”

Bowman said these specific elements will likely focus on three main ideas.

“The Master Plan is still in the first phases of planning and has not yet developed any concrete proposals,” he said. “However, we anticipate that some of the proposals will most likely focus on: how to efficiently use the existing space on campus, how to enhance the campus experience with planned investments in the facilities and grounds and how to adjust social spaces on campus to be more welcoming. ”

He said the College hosted two open forums for faculty and staff last week, allowing them to hear from a wide variety of people within the community.

“Attendees were asked what their vision is for the College and what aspects of the College currently work well and need to be preserved,” Bowman said.  “As you might expect, after three days of meetings, we started to hear some consistent things, both successes and challenges, from the group. A summary of these consistent themes and findings will be presented to campus in another open forum at a workshop in November."

Bowman said students and community members also can get involved in the development process.

“We have been happy to see that many students are adding comments to the website,” Bowman said.  “… The website will have new information added to it periodically throughout the process. In addition to the website, open forums will be held when the consultant team is on campus. We encourage students to attend these open forums and share their reactions to the ideas being considered. In November, the open forum will be a summary of what was heard in the October open forums. Later open forums will present conceptual plans and design ideas to the campus community.”

Senior Katie Stare, Student Government vice president of external affairs, said students' and community members' voices are important, and she is excited to see what the Master Plan does for the College's future.

“I think that it is great that Saint Mary's is planning into the future to benefit in the long run," Stare said. "I especially think that the importance they are putting on the perspectives of all those who utilize the campus, whether it be the students, faculty, staff or administrators, allows to have multiple voices be heard on different aspects of the College. Being able to have our, the students', voices be heard makes our opinions and concerns have the potential to be a part of the Master Plan."