The Corporation approved the establishment of a new School of Engineering and authorized renovations to the Metcalf Chemistry and Research Laboratory at its meeting on May 28.
Members of the Corporation, the University's highest governing body, also attended a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on additions to Brown's athletic facilities, including the new fitness and aquatics centers.
The Corporation also elected three new fellows and six new trustees, including Eric Rodriguez '08, the second young alum trustee, at the meeting.
The Corporation voted to transform the University's Division of Engineering into a School of Engineering, officially endorsing the proposal that the faculty approved on April 6. The creation of the school will enhance the University's established engineering program by attracting new faculty and expanding programs in areas such as bioengineering and nanoscience, said Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98.
An advisory committee, composed of six faculty members and chaired by Kertzer, began an international search for a dean on July 20, Kertzer said, adding that the University intends to complete the search by next summer. Professor of Engineering Rodney Clifton will serve as interim dean of the school until the University names someone to the position permanently.
"We're hoping to move along as quickly as we can," Kertzer said. "In terms of expanding, we're waiting for the new dean."
The proposal for the school — which carried a total price tag of $100 million, including hiring new faculty and initiating new research programs — also called for a new science building, Kertzer said. Brown has yet to receive a substantial gift to fund the new school, but University officials intend to set up a committee in the next month to begin the planning process and spur fundraising efforts. "The building would require significant fundraising, but we're not holding off on planning," he said.
Having a plan for a state-of-the-art-building, however preliminary, will hopefully attract funding, as well as entice new faculty to the school, he added.
Though the University had to abandon its original plans for a new brain sciences building and separate fitness and aquatics centers due to budget considerations, construction on two major capital projects is finally moving forward.
Renovations to Metcalf Lab began a week after a Corporation committee approved construction. The construction will provide space for Brown's new Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences and will significantly alter the building's interior. The Corporation initially approved the capital project in February 2009 after budgetary constraints forced the University to scrap plans for an entirely new brain sciences building.
The renovation project is slated for completion in fall 2011, and the building's laboratory space is set to open in the beginning of 2012.
The $42 million project includes plans to update the building's existing auditorium and make the space wheelchair-accessible, said Michael McCormick, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction. The planned renovations also include a new roof and balustrades and retrofitting the building with energy-efficient windows, McCormick said. The University is emphasizing increased energy efficiency for all its capital projects, he said.
Soldiers Arch has been temporarily closed for the summer to allow for the transportation of construction materials, though it will be reopened at the start of the fall semester, he added.
The University also intends to turn the space behind the building, which is currently used to store mechanical equipment, into a courtyard that will serve as a space for discussions among faculty and students.
Despite being forced to ditch its vision for a new building, the University managed to preserve many of the initially desired elements — including more classroom space and more accessible public venues — with the Metcalf renovation project, said Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the President. The biggest compromise resulting from the change in plans was the availability of lab space, he said.
Because the University is renovating laboratories that were already in use rather that creating new space, faculty members who worked in Metcalf have been forced to temporarily relocate to Wayland Square until the renovation's completion, Spies said.
"I don't think there is any expectation that the building will be even partially usable by the fall," he said. "There's not much ‘swing space,' if you will, anywhere in the University."
Before Metcalf's renovations got underway, Corporation members attended the groundbreaking for additions to Brown's athletic facilities. The $46.6 million additions include the combined Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center and the Nelson Fitness Center, the David Zucconi '55 Varsity Strength and Conditioning Center and the Ittleson Quadrangle, which will replace the parking lot in front of Meehan Auditorium and the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. The University is hoping to finalize design plans for the quadrangle by the end of the summer, and the athletic complex project is scheduled to be completed in January 2012, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for facilities management.