Campus Master Plan

Overview

Vassar College has a long and proud history of promoting access to progressive education, starting with its founding in 1861 as a college dedicated to providing women with "the means of a thorough, well-proportioned, and liberal education." From the beginning, our faculty have excelled in the sciences, arts, and social sciences, including early innovations in technology, environmental quality, and advocacy for social equity. The College continues to celebrate its tradition of progressive education within an historically important and architecturally rich campus. The present master plan seeks to support both of these aspects of our heritage as we plan for maintaining and improving the campus in the coming years.

Campus planning studies conducted over two years and completed in 2016 by Dober Lidsky Mathey (DLM) contained 17 findings and recommendations that address "programmatic, facility, and campus needs for the next 15 years.” The DLM report challenged the College to “decide which options it would like to pursue, and which recommendations should be accepted.” (DLM, 2016, p. 1) In May of 2016 the ad hoc Campus Master Planning Committee of the Board of Trustees constructed a set of recommendations based upon the DLM report and input from the on-Campus Master Planning Committee (CMPC), and charged College leadership to develop a schematic plan and timeline for renovations and other projects that would be brought back to the ad hoc Campus Master Planning Committee, the Buildings and Grounds Committee and the full Board for consideration.

This Campus Master Plan provides guiding principles and priorities as the College undertakes strategic infrastructure improvements over the next fifteen years. Adhering to this master plan will maximize efficiency and minimize working at cross-purposes as we renew and rebuild our physical plant to best support the community and our academic mission.

In addition to reviewing the DLM report and the projects identified therein, the CMPC supplemented its work with information provided by previous studies, a campus survey, and community forums. This schematic plan recognizes gaps in the DLM study resulting from early assumptions that were made about the study’s scope and includes both short term projects that were omitted by DLM as well as concepts that extend beyond what can reasonably be accomplished within our working timeframe. The CMPC looked at possibilities, not probabilities, in developing a plan that will deliver not just buildings but ways of educating and inspiring our future students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

This plan is both timely and important. As noted in a Sightlines report on sustainability in higher education, colleges can expect to see a sharp rise in infrastructure maintenance needs in the coming decades (2016). Well planned building preservation and stewardship contributes to financial stability and supports the College’s mission as well as the strategic evolution of our campus. The College has invested over $300 million in its physical plant over the past ten years, largely through bond funding, representing a significant investment in campus infrastructure. Although this level of investment will be difficult to sustain over the next decade, it is essential that renewal of our physical plant continue, and that such renewal be forward thinking and strategic, coordinated and thoughtful, and reflect the values and goals of the College community.