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The administration will be focusing more energy on new residence halls now that several major construction projects have gotten underway, said Dick Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the President.

"As some of the early priorities move along, and we get the budget back in balance," Spies said, "then you can begin to focus" on projects such as expanding dorm options. Now that the ground has been broken on the new Alpert Medical School building and plans to begin building the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center have been approved, Spies said, the focus can shift to projects in their early stages of planning.

The University originally began looking into expanding dorm options on campus in 2006 and 2007, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services.

"We had a lot of conversations with students" about what would be needed to keep upperclassmen on campus, she said.

"What we found in 2007 is you need apartments and suites to make students stay in Brown housing," she said, adding that as of now, "when we look at our inventory, we find more traditional residential life."

A 2003 report which outlined construction goals to support the Plan for Academic Enrichment suggested expanding the Graduate Center and Wriston Quadrangle residence spaces, but Klawunn said the 2007 findings showed that this type of growth would not attract the target upperclassmen.

The most recent update to the Plan for Academic Enrichment, in July, aimed to increase the number of students living on campus from 80 to 90 percent through new dorm initiatives when funding became available.

But in light of the recent financial crisis, inadequate funding for such projects has pushed back the actual implementation, Spies said.

"We've come through a difficult year," he said, adding that the University is now "stabilizing" and in "a better place to start thinking about" these initiatives.

Klawunn said it is time for the committees involved in the planning process — the Corporation Committee on Campus Life and the Corporation Committee on Facilities and Design — to examine the "residential picture" that would best fit the campus today. "We are thinking of inviting these two groups to take a tour of residence halls in May," in order to assess campus need for new space, she said. By planning and evaluating in the summer, she added, the committees may be able to assemble "preliminary ideas in the fall."

Klawunn added there must be a balance between expansion and renovation projects.

These projects generally occur over the summer, with the New Pembroke buildings and the Minden Hall elevators slated to be updated in coming months. With the space made available by new dorms, Klawunn said, longer-term renovation projects of existing residence halls would be possible without displacing anyone.  These longer-range renewal projects are unfeasible as of now because current dorms are at full capacity.

Spies said the administration has already been receptive to new dorm proposals and is providing added motivation when evaluating the need for new dorms.

"I envision a big dorm project," President Ruth Simmons said at the Undergraduate Council of Students general body meeting March 24. She also mentioned the new dorms planning process during her State of Brown address March 18.

"You don't know when the moment will come to move from planning and innovation to implementation," Spies said, so the involved groups must "be prepared for the opportunity to argue for the resources" when it does arise.

These projects "are always dependent on unpredictable things," Spies said, adding that unexpected sources of funding such as a donor contributing specifically to a dorm project could greatly shape when new dorm projects can actually be implemented.

The plans must be in place when the opportunity comes, Spies said.

 "This has a good head of steam to get to the next level," he added.



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