DeSales’ New Strategic Plan to Focus on Athletic Facilities

Billera Hall will be expanded in the next five-year strategic plan. Photo courtesy of desales.edu
Billera Hall will be expanded in the next five-year strategic plan. Photo courtesy of desales.edu

By Adam Zielonka

 

DeSales University has unveiled its next five-year strategic plan for fiscal years 2016-2020.

Director of Finance and Treasurer Michael Sweetana ’89 presented the university’s next strategic plan in a public forum on April 29. The plan focuses mainly on improving the university’s athletic facilities.

First on the agenda is the addition of a new turf field, to be ready for the 2015 spring semester. This field can serve a variety of uses, including serving as practice or game space for the field hockey, lacrosse and soccer teams. A new track will then be installed in the empty field across the road from the Gambet Center in time for the spring of 2016.

Billera Hall will also undergo renovations over the next several years, as rumored. Planning for these renovations is in its preliminary phase. The idea is to expand the building to make room for a more spacious fitness center, more team rooms and more space for intramural sports.

Meanwhile, there will be no construction on the Upperclassmen Village during the 2014-2015 school year. Along with the completion of the first two buildings, the foundation for all future buildings, including all plumbing and electric, will be complete by August. With that foundation in place, new units can be built “as enrollment dictates,” according to Sweetana.

The university only plans to make eight of the nine Village buildings residence halls. The ninth building’s ultimate purpose remains unknown for now, and will be decided once the rest of the Village is built and filled with students. Sweetana says the ninth building can ultimately become another dining hall or student center, and he did not rule out the possibility of a pub.

What is not part of the next five-year plan? A new McShea Student Union, for one. Sweetana says that although there has been initial planning for a new McShea, including the extension of part of DeSales Drive to make more space, construction will not start until the 2020s. In the meantime, The Minstrel reported last month that a Sandella’s Flatbread Café will be installed in the current McShea over the summer, in time for the fall semester.

Sweetana also said there are plans for Dooling Hall to become the main building for the Division of Liberal Arts, now that every other academic division is hosted in its own building. An architect is currently analyzing Dooling for DeSales in the first of several phases before eventual construction.

Expanding Dooling to include more classrooms will involve moving some administrative offices into Brisson Hall. Fifteen to 20 years down the road, this will entail removing dormitories from Brisson and Chappuis Halls and making them solely administrative buildings.

Besides the facility plans, the Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program will also enjoy an expansion. Prior to this school year, the program had an annual graduating class of 40 students. The state approved the program to expand to a graduating class of 60 this year and 80 starting next year. This makes more room both for students who start the program as undergraduates and for students who enter the program in its Master’s phase.

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