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The Lakeland College Board of Trustees recently concluded a long-range planning effort which produced the most comprehensive master plan in the college's history. Lakeland recently met with the college's president, Stephen Gould, to discuss the evolution of the plan and some of the immediate changes happening on campus.
The first project is a new main campus entrance which is scheduled for groundbreaking in the fall of 2011 and completion by the kickoff of the college's Sesquicentennial in the spring of 2012.
Lakeland: Why does Lakeland need such an extensive campus master plan at this time?
Gould: This plan was always envisioned as part of the board's ongoing strategic planning process. An opportunity to do this occurred through the generosity of a friend of the college. The campus master plan includes a lot of thinking about what we want Lakeland College to be in the future.
Physical facilities and landscaping are permanent things, and once you've done them, it's expensive or sometimes impossible to move them. This plan helps us ensure that we don't plant trees where later we want to build buildings, or develop parking lots where later we want to plant trees.
There's much more here than simply a picture of the campus with some buildings drawn in.
This process involved a detailed examination of every physical facility on the campus, long-range and deferred maintenance projects were identified and, for the first time in the college's history, we identified our underground infrastructure. We now have accurate typography for the campus and estimates for the cost of improving existing facilities. This campus master plan is good for 20-30 years.
Lakeland: Do all of these projects have set timelines?
Gould: The main entrance is the only project with a specific timeline. This is not an action plan - it's a direction, a set of way points on the path to a place we want someday to be.
Lakeland: Please tell us more about the main entrance and the other landscaping plans that will be happening next year.
Gould: We have a beautiful campus, but it's almost impossible to tell that from the road. We've hidden our signature building, Old Main, the building that identifies this as a college, the building to which all of our alumni can relate to and identify with. The new main entrance will consolidate the two existing entrances, creating a front door for our campus that spotlights Old Main. The drainage ditch in front of campus will be converted to a stream, and everyone will cross a bridge which leads to a plaza in front of Old Main. The plaza will feature attractive named bricks and pavers from alumni, alumni-parents and friends of the college. Although this is a project devoted primarily to the aesthetics of the campus, we think it could be a real game changer.
Lakeland: What do you mean when you say 'game changer'? Why are these aesthetics changes important?
Gould: You know, it's unfortunate, but first impressions often determine people's view of colleges and universities. Prospective students are said to decide whether they're interested in a particular campus in the first few minutes of their initial visit. I imagine it's the same with many parents and potential friends of the institution. By improving the first look that people get of the college, we hope to make a stronger initial impression on people who might decide to take a closer look at Lakeland and discover all the exciting and wonderful things about this institution.
Lakeland: Please highlight some of the other major parts of the plan.
Gould: The current Esch Library and campus center are both inadequate for our long-term needs. Today's libraries are much more than book repositories, and that building doesn't expand very well. The kitchen space in our campus center is inadequate for our demands, and all the ancillary equipment is undersized. Campus centers have become icons for campuses. We envision a new campus center which includes a new, upgraded dining and student services area. We would move the library to the old campus center, which would improve the library's centrality and usefulness. Esch would be used for some other purpose. We also indentify space for additional residence halls and an unidentified additional building on this plan. These changes would accommodate 1,200 students. Now with this plan, if our home campus enrollment grows, we have a strategy for how we would build facilities to accommodate that additional enrollment.
Lakeland: How can our alumni and friends play a role in making this plan a reality?
Gould: They can participate in the Sesquicentennial Campaign that will kick off starting this fall. When the time comes, they can consider a gift in support of our plans. People can do this individually, or join former classmates or peers from campus organizations and activities in which they participated. They can take advantage of numerous naming opportunities, from the bricks and pavers in the new main entrance to new and existing campus facilities.