BOV discusses College’s future

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November 20, 2009

4:13 AM

Future building plans, increased early decision admission and faculty budget woes were some of the topics discussed by the College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors at its Thursday meeting.

During the BOV’s Committee on Buildings and Grounds, Vice President for Administration Anna Martin unveiled the proposed construction of a new chilling plant behind the current power plant, located near the Campus Center.

“We hope that with the funds we are given, that we will be able to achieve all of these objectives,” Martin said. “So eventually all of these buildings will be attached to the central heating-cooling plant.”

The construction, which would also replace pipes under Old Campus from the 1940s and 1950s, would provide for the construction of four cooling units that would use cold night temperatures to chill water. This construction would ultimately bring air conditioning to the Jefferson Hall and Barrett Halls, as well as improve heating and cooling environments in most of the Old Campus academic halls.

“When we renovated Barrett in 2001, we prepared that building for air conditioning, but we couldn’t because it wasn’t ready,” Martin said.

Martin also said that Chandler Hall, which is one of the residence halls on the list for renovations, will eventually be included in this cooling system.

“Chandler is not yet prepared because we have not renovated Chandler yet,” Martin said. “That will get it in phase one.”

Jamestown North and South Halls will also be linked to the new cooling system. The current cooling system for the two dorms lies on the site of a proposed expansion of the Integrated Science Center. Martin said she expects these changes to be completed.

Martin also talked about the College’s efforts to demolish the Thiemes House, which currently rests on the site of a proposed future residential-retail building. Thiemes, which houses the College’s Human Resources Department, was reported by Martin to be in extremely poor condition, as recent rainstorms flooded the basement with several inches of water.

The BOV’s Committee on Administration also discussed a change in the College’s appointment and terminations policy for professional faculty.

The policy change stems from Virginia’s Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act of 2005, in which the College agreed to create its own Human Resources department to reconfigure the procedures necessary for the College to hire a new professional.

Later in the day, College Provost Michael R. Halleran’s presentation to the BOV began with the rhetorical question of how to determine if the College was doing a good job.

“If the quality of your students is very strong, you would know at least one thing,” Halleran said. “You’re doing something right. It’s an important measure of not just the quality of the students, but indirectly, the quality of the education.”

Associate Provost for Enrollment Earl Granger then reported that the College received 1,065 early decision applications — a record number. Granger estimated a third of these applicants would actually be accepted into the College.

Afterwards, the issue and realities of budget cuts were presented by two faculty speakers.

“There is this theme at William and Mary that we can always do more with less, and even more with even less,” Biology Department Chair Lizabeth Allison said. “We always feel that we are right at the edge, and if you put one more thing up there, it’s all going to come down.”

Allison said that more and more teachers in her department were relying upon their own individual research grants to fund teaching and carry out basic research needs. She also voiced concern that if cuts continued, departments would have to maintain the practice of hiring one-year professors who would ultimately be unable to help students with advising or mentorships.

History Department Chair Phil Daileader also discussed the effects of budget cuts on his department. He spoke of one of his students from Romania who could not finish her honors thesis because each professor she studied under held one-year contracts and had refused to mentor her.

“When I arrived at William and Mary, I marveled that I had stumbled upon the only college in the country that was both a place where I wanted to teach and a place where I wanted to send my children to,” Daileader said. “If you ask me that question now, I might say it’s up in the air, and I’m very fearful of what answer I might give five years from now. My great fear is that William and Mary has become the unique college that I neither want to teach at nor do I want to send my children to.”

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