Archived Voice Articles

Board of trustees approves new campus master plan

By Sally Jongsma

As shown in this artist's sketch, the campus master plan would open up the center of campus for common green areas, moving parking to the perimeter.

As shown in this artist's sketch, the campus master plan would open up the center of campus for common green areas, moving parking to the perimeter.

At its April meeting, the Dordt College board of trustees approved in concept a new master plan for the campus. The plan was commissioned to help the college implement the priorities laid out in the strategic plan adopted last year and also to help connect the campus to the recently acquired Kuhl farm which now makes up the south end of the Dordt College campus.

“The plan gives coherence and a sense of openness to the campus,” says President Carl E. Zylstra. Ironically, even though Dordt is in a rural community, it has grown relatively crowded as buildings were added on existing property and as land around campus was developed.

Zylstra stresses that the plan was approved as a guideline, not a blueprint for future growth and development.

“This is the land we have to work with now,” he says. “We want to think ahead so that when we need to grow, we don’t have to tear down buildings to build what we need.”

The most urgently needed components of the plan are facilities for the science and education departments, as highlighted in the strategic plan. Some of Dordt’s science laboratories were built nearly forty years ago, others during the last major renovation of the building which occurred twenty years ago. Both the content of courses and the equipment and facilities needed to teach the curriculum have changed steadily over the past four decades. Dordt College professors have been creative and resourceful, but demands for new work areas and equipment continue to grow.

“As we move into areas like biotechnology, we will need different types of facilities,” says Zylstra. He also believes that up-to-date facilities will help attract good students and faculty. The plan proposes an addition on the south end of the present building.

“It’s easier to build new labs than to remodel old ones,” says Vice President for Business Affairs Arlan Nederhoff. Current building codes require bigger ventilation and power systems than the labs currently have. So it will be more cost effective to turn the old labs into much needed classrooms and build new labs.

Facilities for the education department, which is the largest major on campus, have not kept pace with those of many other departments, Zylstra says. To best meet the needs of future teachers and to achieve the strategic plan’s goal that Dordt College be recognized as a leader in K-12 Christian education, the college should build a model classroom, provide a place for a K–12 math and science lab, purchase new technology, and give the department a more visible home. Education faculty and the program would benefit from a designated space where students and faculty could gather and where resources could be shared, Zylsra believes.

The third area of focus and one that will receive early attention in the plan is the creation of more green space in the center of campus. The new plan clusters academic, residence, and public areas and moves parking to the perimeter of the campus. The academic green is on the west side, the entry plaza and central commons in the center, and a residential quad to the east. The green area will follow a waterway to the south end of the college property.

“The plan allows us to begin working toward a goal, beginning in small ways until funding becomes available,” says Zylstra. He hopes that the major pieces of the plan will be in place within the next five to ten years.

The Six Goals of the Campus Master Plan

Planners were originally given six goals: