President Jonathan Sanford announced plans to renovate the University of Dallas campus in his State of the University Address on April 11.
Sanford revealed several renovations that are still in the planning stage. “We’re working on a campus master plan to imagine where new dormitories would go; how we will attach outside and indoor living spaces there,” he said.
“Part of what we’re going to be doing is moving into a house model,” said Sanford. “It’s going to take us another year of full planning, but [it would enable] seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen to live on campus, to have a suite in each dorm of about 100 students within the dorm.”
This would also involve creating an opportunity for faculty and their families to live at UD. This house model is based on an older model used by other universities, such as Harvard and the Catholic University of Ireland. According to Sanford, he also worked through St. John Henry Newman’s reflection on the idea of a university and its residence life.
“I’m really interested in learning more about the new housing thing, I think it could be a great way to foster more community on campus.” said Olivia LeBlanc, a sophomore biology major.
New dorms and a house system are not where Sanford’s plans end. Along with plans to increase lab space in Haggerty Science Center, Sanford mentioned that he is hoping to finish plans for more updates on campus, such as leveling out the Mall, getting the fountain running again in Braniff, and renovating the library to allow for more study space for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Brandon Caro, freshman biology major, applauded Sanford’s plan to renovate Braniff. “We’re a college of liberal arts, we concentrate on reading. And I think Braniff is pretty much the second most iconic building on campus after the Tower,” he said.
“As a biology major, I can definitely say I like the idea of updating the labs.” LeBlanc said. “The labs currently don’t have the same level of equipment as a lot of other colleges, and that can be an issue for students who are trying to gain lab experience because we simply don’t have the actual equipment to teach certain experimental procedures and methods.”
According to Caro, the plans to update HSC seemed to be slowly underway. “I do work in the bio lab and I see some renovations being done,” said Caro. “It’s been painted, some new equipment is coming in.”
Other updates include renovating the Rathskeller and adding dorms to Augustine Hall. “[The Rathskeller can be] a more beautiful place to gather,” said Sanford. “We [also] need new buildings for additional classroom space. Laying out a plan to get there is a big part of the work that we’re doing.”
Most of the funding for all these renovations will be coming from alumni, according to Sanford. He is currently working with different donors to find additional funding for these projects.
“[We are grateful] to the UD alumni who provided meaningful support this year and shared their excitement about what UD students will dream up in the coming years,” said Austin Westervelt-Lutz, assistant vice president for development.
However, Sanford said that some plans might not be accomplished quickly, but he wants the current students to know about UD and where it’s going. “[I want them] to have a sense of what is being pursued and why,” Sanford said. “At the root of our efforts is our conviction that we need to be faithful to our fundamental identity as a Catholic liberal arts university.”
Dr. Gregory Roper, the dean of students, will be in charge of the updates to campus.
While the renovations may not be as fast as some students might want, Caro believes that they will be something that the future classes at UD will appreciate. “I want UD to succeed. I want UD to be a better college,” he said. “And I think even if it’s slow, [the university is] definitely doing a good thing, and we’re moving in the right direction.”