Pelton announces master plan initiatives

Initiative plans to be completed in one year

by Xakota Espinoza / Beacon Staff • September 20, 2012

As part of a proposal to amend the lack of space at the college, President M. Lee Pelton said new dining facilities, space for athletic programs, and new offices and classrooms are among the structural changes to be outlined for Emerson’s Boston campus.  

In an email to the college on Tuesday, Pelton announced that the development of a measure to increase space at the college is set to begin this month, with the full proposal projected to reach completion in one calendar year. 

“Our dining hall in the Little Building is insufficient,” said Pelton. “It’s too small. It needs to be not only refurbished but expanded. There [is] a long list of facilities needs that we have both for the current campus and certainly for the future.” 

In addition to an upgrade for the Little Building dining hall, athletics facilities are also in need of a renovation. He said said an athletic task force is in the process of identifying space needs for the college’s sports programs. 

The entire plan is part of a long-range project introduced in Pelton’s inaugural address.  

Pelton said that while outlining and budgeting are still in the early stages, the current funding for the project comes partially from the operations budget and fundraising. 

“Each initiative will have its own budget,” said Pelton. “We’re just beginning the process to attach numbers to the plan.” 

Pelton said his goal is to increase the school’s endowment by 50 percent. Currently, the Emerson endowment is approximately $120 million, while Emmanuel College’s, a comparebly sized private Boston college, endowment is $64.5 million, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

“The principles articulated in the plan are intended to describe what the college is and wants to become, ensuring that mission drives the physical environment,” said the email. 

Pelton said he expects to add 40 positions to the Emerson staff over the next four years, but the total cost of a faculty increase is yet to be determined. Pelton said the expansion will necessitate a growth of infrastructure. 

“When we add new faculty, we have to add new academic spaces,” said Pelton. “We have faculty right now that need and deserve more academic space for their research and creative expression projects. It’s clear to me that we need more space than we currently have to fulfill our vision of what Emerson will be and could be in the future.” 

According to the college’s website, there are approximately 770 students in the class of 2013, 800 students in the class of 2014, 915 students in the class of 2015, and 900 students in the class of 2016. 

In his email, Pelton said that the entire master plan will happen in two six-month phases. Pelton told the Beacon that the first phase will begin as soon as a committee is established, which he hopes will be within the next four weeks. 

“The first phase of work will set the vision and foundation for the campus, in consultation with the broad campus community, based on a rigorous, high-level analysis,” said Pelton in the email. “The second phase of work will focus on developing and refining the appropriate set of tools to enhance space and real estate decision making.”

In the email, Pelton also said the college will be collaborating with Sasaki Associates, a Boston-based multidisciplinary planning and design firm for the project. 

Previous Sasaki Associates projects include The University of Maine campus master plan, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the Lincoln Memorial Landscape and Reflecting Pool. Additionally, the company recently received the American Planning Association’s National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Firm.  

“The firm has a particularly distinguished place in the history of planning and design for higher education,” said the email. “With plans, landscapes, and buildings completed for over 400 institutions world-wide.”