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Making our Campus a Place of Retreat

If you haven’t already heard the exciting news, the Wesley Board of Governors has approved President David McAllister-Wilson’s recommendation to build a new residence hall and renovate 53-year-old Straughn Hall.

If you have heard, you might be wondering how this will change the face of the Wesley campus. Though the campus has been in need of physical improvements for many years, the decision was made to not let the distraction of a building brand-new dorm overshadow the other important elements of the current strategic plan, such as the establishment of the Mount Vernon Square location, the Lewis Leadership Center and the need to extend our global reach. Now is the optimal time to address Wesley’s housing needs, especially now that building costs have fallen.

The dorm construction and renovation follows on the heels of the Oxnam Chapel renovation last summer and this summer’s library renovation. The Wesley library will receive a facelift in order to combine the reference and circulation desks and add more breakout rooms for group study and audio-visual presentation work. In addition, we will install a gathering place complete with coffee and snack machines for students hard at work.

Though the library building will be closed during the renovation, an extended reserve collection housed in the former President’s house will provide access to summer and fall reading list materials. The rest of the collection will be available on 24-hour notice through partnerships with other area seminaries and retrieval of materials from storage. Students will have access to the American University library for study space and reference support from a Wesley library staff member who will be on site during designated hours at the AU library during the renovations.

Following the library renovations, attention will turn in earnest to campus housing. Straughn Hall, the primary on-campus dormitory, was first built in 1958. Carroll Hall was constructed in 1963. As David McAllister-Wilson recently commented, the “dilapidated dorms” were as much of an issue when he began as a student at Wesley 29 years ago as they were 9 years ago when he started his tenure as President.

Though the planning process took a sharp turn away from an initial plan that would have involved an underground parking garage and the tearing down of Straughn, the plan for a Straughn renovation and a new LEED certified building just down the hill from Straughn turned out to be both financially and environmentally more responsible. LEED certification ensures a level of environmentally sustainable design and construction techniques and materials.

The current strategy will be to construct the new building, then move students from Straughn to the new dormitory while Straughn is being renovated. It is anticipated that construction will begin some time in 2012. Needless to say, we are embarking on an exciting journey as a community and are pleased that soon we will be able to offer superior housing to some of the best and brightest incoming students we have seen.

If you’d like to help us fund some of these students, consider a gift to our scholarship fund today.

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