By Justine Espersen
Olivet is committed to three broad priorities for the future: strengthening the core completing the campus plan and ensuring financial stability, University President Dr. John C. Bowling said during the annual State of the University address (SOTUA) to faculty and staff Tuesday, Mar. 25, in Kresge Auditorium.
This is the fifth annual SOTUA, as the first was held in 2009 to reassure faculty and staff in the time of the recession.
Specifically, Bowling noted several different aspects of “strategic expansion” to fulfill the Vision of 2022. Below is a list of some of the additions he mentioned in the address:
-There will be an addition to the south end of Reed (between Reed and the Center for Student Success). Natural sciences and potentially the math department will be placed here. North Reed will be ready to open in the fall.
-Classrooms with labs will be added to Wisner with the expansion to Nielson Drive, taking the faculty parking lot behind Wisner.
-There will be a wrap-around addition to the north of Larsen, between Larsen and Burke. This will include black box theater class, a recital hall and offices.
-A new dormitory will be added to accommodate all freshmen women in place of the Weber parking lot. This will hold roughly 450-500 women.
With the inclusion of new buildings over the coming years in current parking lots, a concern for parking came up during the Q&A of the address. A faculty member asked if they plan to accommodate for the loss of parking. Bowling jokingly responded with, “I don’t seem to have trouble parking.” However, he did say Olivet is considering including a parking structure, or garage, at the east end of chapel, but nothing is for certain.
Additionally, there will be an expansion to the Oakbrook campus since it has reached full capacity. Bowling said they plan to expand and look for another location in Chicago, along with adding a new facility in Indiana. Olivet “extended their footprint and [their] mission impact” by opening a center in Lansing, Mich.
Bowling said Olivet hopes to “enhance the campus culture of student success” and work on increasing retention and graduation rates.
He also mentioned that faculty needs to internally develop a better “sense of shared culture” by “voluntarily going the second mile” with the “needy students.”
Faculty and staff were overall motivated by the SOTUA.
“I’m really excited for the Vision 2022 plan,” Freshman Admissions Counselor Ali Carter said. “It’s helpful to know as I work in the office of admissions – it will help enhance the tours.”