In Dec. 2014, the College will begin renovations on Weston House – the future home of the admissions and financial aid offices. The offices are projected to move from Bascom House and Hopkins Hall, respectively, into the more centrally located building upon its completion the following December.
“Strategically, it is important to have admission right out front and easy for prospective students and families to find on Main Street, but also closer to the heart of campus,” Richard Nesbitt ’74, Director of Admissions, said. “[That way] prospective students can see the activities going on around campus and observe current students in their daily lives.”
The initial conversations regarding the renovation began in 2012 when Steve Klass, vice president of campus life, spearheaded the Southwest Sector Planning Committee. According to Nesbitt, the group considered the “Health Center, Science Quad, Stetson Court buildings and dorms on the southwest part of campus and were doing some more planning from a high level. It was a long term evaluation for the whole area.”
After initial discussions about the location of the new admissions building in the past few years, the College formed a building committee, co-chaired by Nesbitt and Paul Boyer, director of financial aid, in early February. The committee consists of representatives from both the admission and financial offices; Project Manager Jason Moran, Professor of Biology Daniel Lynch, Director of Communications Angela Schaeffer, Executive Director of Design and Construction Rita Coppola-Wallace and two students: Susie Paul ’16 and Rani Onyango ’16. The committee meets biweekly for two hours.
“I am part of the group to give students a voice in this project,” Paul said. As a Quest scholar, a financial aid recipient and an Admissions Ambassador, Paul explained that this project means a lot to her. In addition to consulting the committee on how the new space should be used, Paul and Onyango will likely hold focus groups to determine what students
want to see from the new building in the future.
In their most recent meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 19, members listened to final presentations from three design firms, ultimately deciding on Architectural Resources Cambridge, a design group based in Cambridge, Mass. According to Schaeffer, the building will be LEED gold certified, a sustainability measurement set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council, which is “pretty much standard now for any construction project the College takes on.”
One of the major ideas that emerged from Southwest Committee discussions was to move admissions, financial aid and potentially the Bursars office into one building. “We have a really strong financial aid program at the College and it is important that prospective students and parents understand that, and have access to all the information they need to understand how affordable Williams actually is,” Schaeffer said. “Having them in the same building will make that easier.”
Nesbitt reiterated Schaeffer’s sentiment, explaining that by relocating admissions and financial aid, information would not only be more accessible to prospective students, but the change would also create a welcoming place for current students “where they want to spend time.” This would also be another place for visiting families to observe groups of students in their day-to-day routines.
In addition, Nesbitt noted that the move makes sense because “the center of campus is shifting with the opening of the new library and the new Kellogg House. You are going to want both of those things on the tour, so it is important for admissions to be located closer.” The Stetson library is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014 and Kellogg House, the Center for Environmental Studies, will also open late Oct. 2014.
The admissions office has been located in Bascom House since 2003, when it was moved there after over 30 years in Mather House. According to Nesbitt, the financial aid office is currently located in Hopkins Hall and is suffering from similar space problems.
Currently, Weston House is home to three classrooms and serves as office space for several members of the communications department working on updating school websites. After the renovation, Nesbitt said these employees will most likely be moved to a space in the new library.
The College has not decided upon the future use for Bascom House.