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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Scott Kull: The new Director of Athletics
Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Thoughts from the Rectangle Office

The vision for a better Wofford moves forward as the Strategic Vision moves toward the implementation phase. Photo of President Nayef Samhat courtesy of Mark Olencki.

In the fall the Wofford College Board of Trustees approved a new Strategic Vision for the college. Immediately, Jerry Richardson, a 1959 Wofford grad and founder of the Carolina Panthers, donated two new buildings to the college — the Rosalind S. Richardson Center for the Arts and the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. Amidst the excitement, however, Wofford students still have questions, and President Nayef Samhat sat down with the The Old Gold and Black to answer them and shed some light on the Wofford of the future.

Rosalind S. Richardson Center for the ArtsCurrently, the only arts majors offered at Wofford are art history and theatre, which has raised some con cern as to what benefit this new building would have to all students.

“In general, the use of academic facilities tends to be concentrated among those students who pursue a particular major,” says Samhat. “If you’re a non- science major you don’t often use the labs. We can expect a greater concentration of art, studio art, art history and theatre folks using those facilities more than non-majors.”

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According to Samhat, however, with the new building comes the possibility for an expanded curriculum and more opportunities to test interests in the arts.

“Art classes are open to all students across the institution,” says Samhat. “I see the availability of a broader range of courses and greater facilities helping our students overall.”

Samhat did speak about how the spaces within the Center for the Arts are usable by students of any major.

“There will be unique collaborative workspaces in there too,” he says. “We’re planning on having a digital classroom, which in the future we hope will help start a media studies, film studies major.”

Samhat envisions the center attracting students to Wofford who aspire to major in something within the arts.

Marsh Hall

Marsh has been an enigma for most students for many years now. It now appears that the building will escape certain doom all together.

“This summer we will finish the Greene remodel,” says Samhat, in regard to

the chronological order of dorm remodeling. “Marsh is a solid building. It may not be the most architecturally appealing building, but it is a solid brick building with about 200 beds in a good location.”According to Samhat, the Marsh project includes a complete circulation and air revamp first, then a fixtures and furnishings overhaul in a process that may take a couple years starting summer 2016. The big HVAC unit, finished before August, is designed to eliminate the mold issue and to accommodate future additions to the ventilation system.

Greek Village

Much like Marsh, the fully depreciated fraternity row has been on schedule for a makeover for several years. There has been much controversy over the preliminary designs of the Greek Village among students for how much it deviates from the previous remodel designs.
“What was being built, when I got here, was exactly what we had,” says Samhat about the old remodeling plans. “I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to rebuild something, you want to take the opportunity to reimagine everything about that particular purpose. These go beyond just party spaces. They can be broader social spaces as well throughout the day, especially given their placement in the heart of campus.”There have been concerns about the threat to safety since the current I’m ages do not show fences around the back patios.

“If in the evenings fraternities find themselves getting into fights or destroying others’ houses, that’s a big problem,” he says. “We can talk about the houses today in that fences were a part of their original conception, but they were not. The fences evolved, in particular the back stages, as the interiors of the house began to decay.”

Samhat says he and other administrators are deliberating different designs for house fences. Architects will meet with chapter, faculty and alumni representatives to help imagine and design the house’s interior. According to Samhat, the look of the houses will largely be in the hands of the individual chapters.

A Year without a Row

Some students feel as if the college is pushing them off campus. With the Row being gone in the 2015-2016 academic year, students feel it might be a cause for concern that Campus Safety will crack down on social gatherings in residence halls. Samhat says students have had the freedom to move off campus since the college’s beginning.
“Renting or buying a house is a tremendous risk in liability for either the parents who might support it or the students who might do it,” he says. “And one has given up any protection the college can provide. My advice is that students need to be responsible, and no one is forcing anybody off campus. They are making that decision if they do.”
With sororities now getting houses in the Greek Village plans, there have been thoughts that Wofford would build houses for unaffiliated students.“We will have a multicultural house, but we are not anticipating an unaffiliated house at this time,” says Samhat on the matter.

As for the concerns about where fraternities can have weekend parties, Samhat encourages all interested people to visit the college’s website listing possible spaces:

Living in Fraternity Houses and Rush

In regard to living in fraternity houses, Samhat says the decision was made not to put beds in the houses because students have expressed the desire to socialize in dorms and live in a diverse atmosphere.“I think if you’re adding more beds, you have to fill them,” he says. “And when

you fill them, then you’re pushing enrollment up, and creating more demands like hiring faculty and creating more office space and classrooms. It could get very expensive if it’s not well thought out. I don’t think we are in a position right now where we need to do that.”Rush was a big-ticket item in the spring of last year.

“I anticipate at the very minimum a fall and spring rush next year,” he says. “I do not see any change (from fall to spring) next year because there’s already too much happening with Greek life. If we do move to spring rush, it will be in concert with the Greek Village, meaning we will give everyone time to acclimate to the new space. If it doesn’t work, then we go back.”

Samhat says he will leave the decision on whether or not to make spring rush mandatory up to the task force responsible for discussing the possibility with IFC and Panhellenic.

“The whole idea is to strengthen social life on campus, strengthen Greek life and strengthen and enhance student success,” he says.

ParkingWhen construction does start, where will students and staff park their cars? Although Samhat says that a solution is in the works, he points out that parking is an issue for most colleges.

“Parking is an issue on any college campus that I’ve been on,” he says. “Fortunately we have a small campus so getting from one end of campus to the other in less than 10 minutes is not an issue.”

Adding some humor to the conversation, Samhat says, “But we are creatures

of convenience which is why I tend not to walk our dog and my wife does. I prefer to drive around in a golf cart.”
Samhat predicts construction will add no longer than five minutes to student and faculty walks.He also envisions the parking lots between Olin and Shipp and Campus Life turning into grassy areas.

His thinking is this will push all of the parking to the periphery of campus and add to the overall appeal of the grounds.
“Ultimately, we envision a plan that will push the majority of parking to the edges of campus so everything on the interior becomes green walking space,” says Samhat.

Moving Forward with the VisionAccording to Samhat, the next step in the Vision is implementation. Dr. John Lefebvre, chairman of the Department of Psychology, is heading up a small group of faculty, called the I-Team, to transform the Strategic Vision into a concrete plan with metrics, timelines and costs that looks to stretch over seven years. Groups within the team will report the costs and metrics of specific projects and develop an implementation strategy in a six-to-eight-week span.

Until then, Samhat asks that the hard-hitting questions keep coming his way.

—Kyle Hoffman

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