Castleton State College is getting a nearly $26 million facelift including an artificial turf field, totally revamped student center and even a skateboard park.Dave Wolk could barely contain his excitement at the pep rally last Friday as he announced the revealing of Phase IV plans.
“It’s historic in terms of the college and the future,” he said. “There’s an interest in investing for all students . . .I’m so excited for all of you.”
Phase IV, nicknamed The Castleton Student Initiative: Reinvigorating Student Life and Learning, is officially underway, Wolk formally announced on Monday.
“This is much bigger, more comprehensive [than previous stages],” Wolk said. “It’s all about what students need and deserve.”
The project is aimed to attract “high quality” students and give the college an upper hand against competition, he said.
Despite some rumors of Castleton turning into a university, Wolk still stands by his claim that student levels will not exceed 2,000 in order to remain “the small college with a big heart.”
Input from students, faculty, and staff for sketches and ideas has been going on for a year before the plan was revealed.
Lucas Roberts became involved with the planning process as the vice president of the Student Association.
“[The improvements] will truly help the college to continue to unlock the limitless potential of every one of our students,” he said.
Poster-sized drawings of these proposed changes were stacked against the wall of Wolk’s office on Friday, awaiting the revealing Monday.
Divided into three parts, the project will cover academic, athletic, and residential improvements.
“The Castleton Student Initiative is going to impact students by updating overcrowded and outdated facilities and allowing the students to experience an up-to-date college who strives for individuals’ academic, athletic, and engaged success,” Roberts said.
The commuter “hot-spot” will also become the new communication department, merging the radio station, TV station, and The Spartan newsroom, which are currently located in different buildings spanning the campus.
This is in effort to make these campus outlets “more public and visible” as well as bringing residential and academic sides together, Wolk said.
A convenience store and conference rooms will be added to the already existing features of the Campus Center such as the mailroom, dining facilities, and bookstore, which will be expanded during renovation.
The revenue from these additions will help repay the bonds that will be used to pay for the construction.
Athletics, participation having almost doubled from 2002, will see the most changes within this stage. Athletes currently have a higher GPA at 3.0 than non-athletes at 2.75
“It’s amazing,” Wolk said about the increase.
The locker rooms will soon be renovated, a change long sought by the athletic teams. A new gymnasium floor is also part of redesign. When finished, the outside of the gym will be similar to the fitness center.
The current baseball/softball fields will be replaced by artificial turf and a small stadium that includes lighting, seating and a concession. This field will be used for several sports including soccer, field hockey, and intramurals.
“Every team will be affected by the changes,” Deanna Tyson, director of athletics, said at the Friday pep rally, stating there will be a large impact on the future of Castleton athletics.
Tennis courts and baseball and softball fields will be built across the street of South Street parking lot and will be open to public during college breaks. Outdoor volleyball and basketball courts and a skateboard park will also be built.
That’s nice, but who’s paying?
While there will be a slight increase in fees, Castleton’s fees will remain some of the lowest compared to colleges throughout New England. The $300 per semester activity fee, combined with the revenue from expanded facilities and more private fundraising, will repay the bond from the Vermont State Colleges.
VSC is financing projects at all five state colleges, reaching $72 million.
“It’s by far the largest initiative in all Vermont State Colleges,” Wolk said.
Wolk said plans for hiring a construction firm will be decided around December, allowing them to receive permits and begin construction late summer or early fall. Although not likely to be completed, Wolk is hopeful that most of the construction will be finished by Fall 2009.