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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Osgood pleased with results of campus plan

President Russell K. Osgood said he is pleased with the results of the campus plan conceived 12 years ago, a plan that called for a variety of aesthetic and institutional updates to the College. Among the changes were additional dormitories, a new campus center and improvements to the college’s athletic facilities. He is also optimistic for the completion of future projects, such as making the campus more differently abled accessible and the integration of “greener” facilities.
“I think we have come from a situation when our facilities were sound but out of date, and too small for our student body,” Osgood said. “And now it’s a situation where the facilities are lovely. I think it’s been a great success.”
In the spring of 1998—a few months before Osgood took office that July—head officials of the College hired the architectural planning firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott to evaluate the condition and placement of various campus facilities. After an exhaustive, two year planning process, the firm conceived a campus plan that called for improvements of Burling Library, as well the addition of student dormitories, new athletic facilities and an improved campus center to meet the needs of a growing student body. Most of the plan’s original objectives have been completed.
Ten years ago, the idea of the campus plan was “abstract” to students, according to Sean Flammer ’02, who served as the SGA President for the 2000-2001 academic school year.
“To many students, we really weren’t sure whether it would happen or how,” Flammer wrote in an e-mail. “But having been back on campus several times since I graduated in 2002, the campus has changed a lot. And I would say for the better.”
Most of the plan’s original objectives have been completed, much to the satisfaction of the administration and to Osgood.
“As each capital project evolved, a budget was thoughtfully developed given the needs and resources of the College,” wrote Karen Voss, the Vice-President for Finance and Associate Treasurer for the college, in an e-mail. “The aggregate total of these projects have been completed under budget.”
According to Voss, the completion of the campus plan has increased the total square feet count of campus buildings by more than 45 percent.
“Over the course of the 12 years now, essentially we have done it all, with the exception that we did not build a new library yet,” Osgood said.
Osgood was familiar with the architectural firm prior to coming to Grinnell—the firm worked on improving the Cornell School of Law during the time while Osgood was Dean.
Originally, the campus plan called for a new library to be built in the middle of campus, next to the current location of the JRC. However, the architects eventually agreed that the space was not large enough to accommodate both facilities. Although a new library has yet to be built, a new library storage facility is helping to alleviate the burden on Burling, as well as the completion of the Kistle Science Library, housed in the Noyce Science Building, as noted in the original plan. Except for the new library, President Osgood says the plan has essentially been completed.
“We still have our drawing boards up but we don’t have the money right now,” Osgood said.
Currently, there are three additional projects in the works—a wind farm, a new preschool and renovating Grinnell House to make it differently abled accessible.
Another aspect of recent renovations that was not a part of the original campus plan is the effort to increase sustainability and making the College’s buildings more green.
“The other thing that we have spent a lot more money on than we would have projected back then is sustainability,” Osgood said. “We have put a giant well field of geothermal wells for the athletic center, and we did get LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification for some of our larger projects.”
Osgood said that future geothermal facilities will probably be built for a new preschool and preschool laboratory for the Psychology department, as well as for the new library, if one were to be built.
The wind farm—the last of the three current projects—is currently delayed due to the economic downturn.
“We estimate that the wind farm will cost $7 million,” Osgood said. “And that’s the most expensive of the current big projects, except the new library.”
“The wind project continues to move forward and discussion is ongoing regarding funding of the project,” Voss said.
Osgood estimates that a new campus plan will be made soon, once all of the new facilities have been completed and open for use for a period of time.
“We have tried to make great strides in accessibility in our facilities, and we want to make our whole campus greener, and more environmentally responsible,” Osgood said. “We have made great progress in both of those, but they are not done. I would guess that in the next three to five years, the campus will make a new campus plan.”
In addition to making the campus “greener” and more accessible, the new campus plan will look at classroom needs, and the library needs of the humanities and social sciences. A campus plan update is currently in the works.
“President Osgood was instrumental in overseeing the substantial changes that the campus has seen over the years,” Flammer said.  “The dining hall and the athletic facility are the two big structural changes that come to mind.”
When asked if he has any advice for Dr. Kington on the next campus plan, President Osgood said it was his personal view that the out-going president should not overwhelm the incoming one. However, Osgood says that he will write reports that he will leave for Dr. Kington to do with what he wants.
“He can rip them up, file them, whatever he wishes,” Osgood said.
Editor’s Note: Marking the leave of President Russell K. Osgood, the S&B will be running a series of articles every other issue looking at how Osgood’s tenure has overseen change at the College in aesthetic, academic, student life areas and overall perception of the institution.

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