Master Plan renovations set over twenty years

Ever find yourself thinking, What will Dordt become once I’ve graduated? How will things look in five years, ten years, thirty years?

There’s a master plan for such eventualities. Actually, there’s only one master plan, which staff member Howard Wilson has  affectionately termed The Master Plan. Wilson carries the proverbial keys to all the schemes and goals for reconstructing and repurposing The Dordt College campus (and other lands owned by the college) over the next two decades. He juggles many factors to be considered, such as wifi access, available parking spaces, internet ports.

“We have to think about in our spaces, what do we put in for technology? Our use of bandwidth doubles virtually every year… Each student downloads the equivalent of at least one DVD per day in our network. That’s how much data we push through our networks, almost all wirelessly.”

“Someday we’d like to connect East and North [dorms], kind of a lobby or something.”

Potential Professional Studies Center that will be located south of the Science Building. “We’re still deciding, is this the type of thing we want to do?”

Access to the Plan: “[I think] Parts of it are on DCC,” Wilson said. “We’ll generally show people the first few pages just to get them thinking about these things.”

However, no plan can include every eventuality, and the Master Plan is no exception. The plan evolves regularly.

“Always with the caveats that it’s a twenty-year plan, it’s based on fundraising that we can raise, from asking people to help us… but it’s not carved in stone, it’s written in paper.”

“Even in the last two years, we came up with the idea at the farm… the Mayor actually asked us if we’d be willing to exchange land. The farm [we owned] touches the edges of the city limits, now. We negotiated that trade with them, now we’ve literally ‘sold the farm,’ and got another one. We’d like our land to all be touching, for safety reasons and efficiency reasons. But you’ve got to have a plan, so you can make those decisions without thinking too much about them. One of my mentors said, ‘A good plan keeps you from having to make the same decision twice.’”

“We’d like to have the Dewitt gym air-conditioned. We’d like to have East campus air-conditioned… we’ve put quite a lot of money into it so we want to use it well. You also have to think about where green belts should be, because it takes twenty years to grow a tree. One of Dr. Hoekstra’s favorite expressions is, ‘The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is today.’”

For example, Wilson said, Derek Buteyn and Robert Taylor are intent on creating a green space where the Commons is now. The ideas come from a wide variety of places, we talk to the academic people, like what they see for their programs, what they need… the faculty… we’ve done student surveys, spending quite a bit of time with Symposium.”

“We’re also looking at culinary arts programs, different ways to serve and prepare food.”

The Plan includes new parking lots, a new “green” space between East and West, and a Commons building about 50 feet over and 15 feet up from where it now resides.



Contributed Photo

What is the Master Plan and who has access to it?


How many years ahead does the Plan account for?

How sustainable is the Plan?

What role do students play in the Plan?


“The big answer is, it’s all about students. That’s the biggest picture. But another is collecting ideas from students. We’ve looked at putting Campus Health in the Campus Center to make it easier for students. We hear from students that they really like the Dining Commons food, but you’d like better aesthetics and more space. The caterers would like more servery areas… We went to the Calvin [College] Commons, and Hope [College]. We’re also looking at culinary arts programs. We got to see college cafeterias and different ways to serve and prepare foods. We want to be better in that area.”

“Dr. Hoekstra and I don’t like fountains. Y’all are gone when they’d look nice, in the summer, and they’re also just a pain to maintain.”

Renovations for every significant building on campus except the Campus Center.

Architects: “We had this designed by a company called Credo from Green Bay, Wisconsin. They specialize in campus design. They spent quite a bit of time here, talk to faculty, talk to staff, ‘what’s your vision for the future?’ Since then we have a new company called Hastings+Chivetta, they’re from St. Louis… and since then they’ve revised the plan a bit.”

“We have a parking spot for everyone. This isn’t so much of a parking problem as a comfort [convenience] problem… In some institutions you have to take a bus to your dorm… [Still,] Parking is perceived to be a problem. How can we get better parking? How can we arrange it, [especially] for nursing students and Pro-Tech students who have to get off campus at 6:00 a.m.”

“It’s amazing, because we’ve got some of the best food ratings anywhere in the country.”

One of the more exciting predictions in the Plan is a fine arts center to be attached to the back of the B. J. Haan auditorium.

“[M]ost likely [for] music or small drama, wanting to have really good acoustics. Add an auditorium and a stage, so Theater could move directly into the B. J. Haan. Something like a dance studio, lots of storage… a trap room (you can elevate things to the stage), some nice offices, a sort of multipurpose space seating three or four hundred, a nice flat floor, movable seating, a scene shop…”

We are part-owners of TePaske (“we own a third”) and the All Seasons Center (“we own half”), the baseball field and the football field (“a three-way partnership between Dordt and the city and the school district”). “We have a committee that meets regularly with the three parties to talk about things.”

“The last stage of this would be to renovate the B. J. Haan, tearing out the mezzanine. It was originally intended to have a sort of two-story atrium effect. So we’ll probably take that out… We know that we need way more restrooms, twice as many restrooms for ladies. That’s a passion for me: I have a wife and two daughters.”

“The organ will always be there.”

“What does the future look like? We’re kinda convinced the future looks like students taking more online courses. So maybe they only have to be on campus for three years. And for online courses, we don’t have classrooms. So we think about how many more classrooms do we need. This is the fifth institution I’ve worked with, and it seems to me as though Dordt’s academic facilities are underutilized. We leave plenty of space for co-curricular activities in the afternoons, so we don’t have many people in the buildings for after 3:00 p.m. or for night classes… We could generate more capacity with more intense scheduling of classes. Every year [registrar] Jim Baas will do a space analysis, and we’ll keep an eye on other factors like that. Faculty now teach in different ways and like different settings.”


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