Board of Trustees expected to pass Maxey Hall renovations

Josh Goodman

An entrance to Maxey on Ankeny? That could be a reality in less than two years if the Board of Trustees approves an overhaul of Maxey Hall to begin this summer. The Board of Trustees will meet this weekend for it’s last meeting of the ’08-’09 academic year.  

The project, which would renovate Whitman’s social sciences building over the next 18 months, is expected to be approved during the Board of Trustees meeting. If approved, it would be funded by a bond taken out a year-and-a-half ago, the same bond used to finance the renovation of Sherwood Athletic Center.  

“The bond was issued before the current economic crisis,” said Associate to the President Jed Schwendiman. “It’s a special tax-exempt bond that we’re able to use as a nonprofit.”  

The planned renovations come at the same time as across-the-board cutbacks throughout the rest of Whitman,  including deferring $500,000 worth of lifecycle maintenance work in buildings this year. However, the money set aside to renovate Maxey cannot be used elsewhere due to the nature of the bond.

“If we could use the money for something else, we might,” Schwendiman said. “But if the college returned this money now, the college would pay a substantial penalty, so I anticipate the Board of Trustees is likely to approve it.”

In addition to an entrance facing Ankeny, the Maxey renovations would include additional classrooms and lab space.

To complete the overhaul, some faculty offices will be temporarily relocated. That includes Associate Professor of Psychology Matthew Prull’s office.

“I have to move 10 years of accumulated junk from my office,” Prull said. “One benefit is that I’m looking forward to being in Olin next year and having interactions with a crowd I don’t normally have interactions with. It’ll be nice to interact with colleagues in philosophy, from which psychology originated.”

Prull thought the renovations would be a great way to make Maxey a better learning environment, from better-sized classrooms to improved lighting.

“The building that we occupy as part of our work, and the building that you occupy as part of your learning, could use some improvements,” he said. “Some large classrooms are running out of space here in Maxey. It’s time to build the building that you hope would still be useful 20 years from now or longer.”

Students, like staff, also stand to benefit.

“I have almost all my classes here,” said sophomore Ariel Ruiz. “I don’t think there’s enough rooms. I wouldn’t mind the better entrance.”

Although he’s skeptical of anything taking away from other projects right now, he supports the renovations overall.

“I think it’s a good idea if it doesn’t take away from other programs,” he said. “I know the college right now is trying to find funds to build the Intercultural House. As long as it’s not going to take funds away from that, then sure.”

Indeed, the Maxey Hall renovations will not detract from the planned Intercultural Center house, nor should they affect plans to put solar panels on the roof of the Bratton Tennis Center, panels which were originally slated for Jewett Hall. Those projects are being funded by gifts and grants.

In the end, these projects should make Whitman an even nicer place.

“These are nice things for the college to be doing, and given that there’s not a lot of money available to do the other things we would like to do, it’s fortunate that we have the resources to do these projects this summer,” Schwendiman said.