Many students are unsure of what changes may take place while they attend Whittier College. “What is the master plan?” first-year Bobbi-Marie Mendoza said. To alleviate this problem, the administration, staff, trustees and faculty met on March 12 to begin creating a master plan. The master plan of Whittier College is a 10 to 20 year plan that will focus primarily on the improvement of the facilities that already exist on campus. “A study of the campus as a learning environment in order to make recommendations on how to improve academic and student life in the future,” Vice President of Finance Jim Dunkelman said.
The master plan is being created with input from various people from the Whittier College community. Students are trying to be incorporated into the planning process in several different ways. Steinberg Architects is currently assessing the College’s facilities and accepting input from students as to what improvements would provide the greatest benefits to students at the least cost. On April 17, Shawna Upp, an architect from Steinberg Architect hosted a student forum during the weekly Associated Students of Whittier College Senate meeting in Villalobos Hall. Students at this forum brought up a wide variety of concerns ranging from the lack of cooking facilities available to students living in dorms to the lack of desks for students because of the College’s increased enrollment. In addition to the student forum, Dean of Students Jeanne Ortiz sent out an e-mail on March 23, to the student body to inform students of what the master plan is and how they can become involved in the process.
The faculty of the College has an active role in the master planning process. Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies sal johnston represents the professors of Whittier College in the planning process. “The master planning process is beneficial to students because it provides an opportunity to improve student life and improve the academic experience of students at the College without providing significant cost to the College,” johnston said.
He discussed in detail that the master plan is being created not only to help improve campus life but also to provide the College with an opportunity to cooperate with the Planning Department of Whittier City Hall. johnston believes that the main objective of the plan is to improve how classrooms are utilized and change their layout in order to ensure that professors are able to teach as effectively as possible. These changes are being proposed by johnston because increasing class sizes are having an increasingly negative impact upon the learning experience of Whittier College students.
Dunkelman also discussed projects that the master plan may encompass. These projects include the possible renovations of Stauffer Hall, assessing the historical significance of the buildings on campus, finding innovative ways to increase parking spaces using our current space and dealing with how cars travel throughout the campus. “Having more parking spaces on campus would be helpful because it provides closer access to my classes,” first-year Mauro Munguia said.
Mendenhall, Peasley and Wanberg are being assessed for historical significance because the Planning Department of Whittier City Hall limits modifications to buildings that are deemed “historic resources” to the city.
In order to make changes to these buildings, the College would have to acquire the proper permits and approval from city planners before any changes can be made to historic buildings.
The master plan is currently in its early stages and may change significantly between now and its completion. The master plan will be implemented if the Board of Trustees approve of it during the February 2013 Board of Trustees meeting.