Changes to Faunce could come as soon as summer

By
Friday, March 2, 2007

Correction appended.

Renovations that will transform Faunce House into the Stephen Robert Campus Center may begin as early as next summer, by which time student services offices currently in Faunce may have started moving into the J. Walter Wilson building.

Renovations to prepare J. Walter Wilson to house student support offices may begin as soon as this summer, and offices may begin moving into the building as early as the summer of 2008. Renovations to Faunce, which will begin after the move of Faunce offices to J. Walter Wilson is complete, are expected to occur during the 2008-2009 academic year.

“It’s going to be pretty fast,” said Elizabeth Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration, of the timeframe for using the $15 million in donations formally accepted by the Corporation last weekend for the purpose of renovating Faunce. Outgoing Chancellor Stephen Robert ’62 P’91 provided the lead gift for the center.

Students have long expressed a desire for a campus center in polls and at forums, but the administration has not taken action before now. The Table of Needs of the Campaign for Academic Enrichment identified a campus center as a second-tier priority, meaning it would not be implemented unless a donor specifically wanted to support it.

“But now, it’s a real project that’s going to happen,” said Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president.

“Everything is important, but this is a high, high priority,” Huidekoper said.

The University has not yet hired an architect, made specific plans or set a firm timetable for the project. But administrators have been considering using the space in Faunce differently for several years. University officials have some ideas about what features the building – originally built in 1904 – may soon host.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, interim vice president for campus life and student services. “We want to create a center with enough and the right type of space for students.”

Carey said the center would include food and coffee options, flexible meeting spaces and comfortable furniture. Other possible uses for the space include a performance area and a games room. “It needs to be more social, more communal,” Carey said. He said the space would have to be open 24 hours to be truly convenient for students.

Together with the relocation of offices to J. Walter Wilson from Faunce and Rhode Island Hall, Carey said the creation of Robert Center would “change how we look at that whole area of campus.”

Current first- and second-year students may experience the benefits of the new center. Caitlin McKenna ’09 said she would be glad to see changes in Faunce.

“They could make clean, open rooms that people could rent out when they needed them,” McKenna said. To create optimum social space, she said the center would need “big comfy chairs and lots of light.”

“It would have to be open all night long, with food all day and all night. And there could be a place you could watch movies on a big screen,” McKenna said. Though she buys breakfast at the Blue Room in Faunce most mornings, McKenna said she finds Faunce’s lower floors dark and the upper floor “not used as well as they could be.”

Nick Poon ’09, who said he spends time at the Student Activities Office and at meetings in Faunce, said the upper floors feel unwelcoming to students, especially at night.

“The halls look old and it’s not really comfortable to be in there,” Poon said. “Maybe something could be done to make the building feel more cozy.”

An article in Thursday’s Herald (“Changes to Faunce could come as soon as summer,” March 1) incorrectly reported that renovations that would transform Faunce House into the Stephen Robert Campus Center may begin as soon as this summer, by which time student services offices located in Faunce may have moved into the J. Walter Wilson building. In fact, renovations to prepare J. Walter Wilson to house student support offices may begin as soon as this summer, and offices may begin moving into the building as early as the summer of 2008. Renovations to Faunce, which will begin after the move of Faunce offices to J. Walter Wilson is complete, are expected to occur during the 2008-2009 academic year.