Board members also embraced preliminary plans presented by administrators for the implementation phase of the University Academic Planning Council process, and voted to "approve in concept" a proposal for the University to undertake a capital campaign.
Included in the approved capital expenditures is $12.5 million for the demolition of Barry Pavilion and the design, construction and equipping of a new Law School academic building of approximately 48,000 square feet. Work on the project is expected to begin during the summer months.
The remaining funds were appropriated to continue a program begun last year that will upgrade restroom facilities, fire alarm and electrical systems in dormitories on the Upper Campus, and that will upgrade and relocate various utility and networking infrastructure on the Middle Campus in order to accommodate planned construction activity.
While a trustee vote on the UAPC implementation plans is not formally required, those plans were reviewed by many members of the board during a May 29 dinner meeting at Alumni House. The following day, at the full board meeting, Trustee R. Michael Murray Jr., speaking for members of the Financial and Audit Committee, voiced "strong support of the need for new investments in the academic programs" of the University. He cautioned that the depth of spending would depend on the continued strength of the US economy and the strength of the University's proposed capital campaign.
Academic Affairs Committee Chairwoman Susan Gianinno echoed Murray's comments and added, "I want to underscore the need for the preeminence of academic concerns in the planning processes of the University."
With respect to the proposed capital campaign, trustees approved "in concept a proposal for a comprehensive capital campaign" and authorized the University to "proceed with plans for this initiative commencing June 1, 1997." The approval, members voted, is contingent upon the findings of a feasibility study that will be conducted by outside consultants this summer. A vote for final authorization, with a recommended goal, could come this fall.
The approval comes on the heels of the most successful fundraising year in the University's history, with a record $26 million in cash contributions raised, according to Development Committee Chairman Robert Murray.
In other action, the Buildings and Properties Committee recommended that administrators proceed with architectural designs for a renovation of and addition to Higgins Hall. Committee Chairman Patrick Carney said that despite initial misgivings about the potential cost of the project, he and committee members were convinced the renovation and addition program is "the best solution" to the outdated teaching and research facilities in the building. Based on this recommendation, the board has approved this project in concept, subject to further review and cost analysis.
During his report, President William P. Leahy, SJ, said a trial date of Nov. 10, 1997 had been set for the Middle Campus Project. Boston College is suing Newton in state Land Court over the city's refusal to grant a permit for the project.
He also told board members that the preliminary comments of the reaccreditation team that visited campus on March were "exceptionally positive about the state of the institution."
Gianinno added that the report of the reaccreditation team was "excellent and reinforcing" and noted that the few concerns raised by the team were already being addressed by the University through UAPC initiatives.
A report on the incoming freshman class by Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ, triggered a lengthy discussion about ways the University can measure improvements in the quality of the student body and about methods that might be utilized to attract African-American and other AHANA applicants.
Trustee Wayne Budd said, "If we're going to commit ourselves in this area, we have to present an environment on campus that is inviting. By increasing [the number of African-American students] we serve the entire University."
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