Heart of the Campus: New Plazas Help Transform the College

Dec 12th, 2012 | By | Category: Lead Story

BY: Jes­si­ca L. Cook

A view of the North Plaza

“Transformative”…that’s how peo­ple have described Wesley’s new North and South Plazas. The his­toric set­ting of Wes­ley College’s cam­pus has been trans­formed from a dis­con­nect­ed col­lec­tion of build­ings near the cen­ter of Dover to a clear­ly defined col­le­giate envi­ron­ment.

“I didn’t rec­og­nize the place when I got back on cam­pus,” said Esmer­al­da Elsakhawy, a sopho­more legal stud­ies major. “It feels so much more like a col­lege now.”

The project con­vert­ed sec­tions of North Brad­ford, Ful­ton and Cecil streets from busy through streets into walk­ways, plazas and green space. The new plazas are not only pro­tect­ed from vehic­u­lar traf­fic, they are safe, well-lit places to con­gre­gate, to study, and to social­ize while enjoy­ing a fin­ished project that has been many years in the mak­ing.

The $2.7 mil­lion improve­ment project had been on the mas­ter plan since 2002 but became an active ven­ture in 2009 when the Wes­ley admin­is­tra­tion broached the con­cept with the City of Dover and neigh­bors liv­ing near the Col­lege.

“I have utmost appre­ci­a­tion for the many orga­ni­za­tions, the neigh­bors, the Dover City Coun­cil and elect­ed offi­cials for all of their guid­ance and sup­port to make this project a real­i­ty,” said Wes­ley Col­lege Pres­i­dent Bill John­ston.

Dr. John­ston, along with stu­dents, admin­is­tra­tors, alum­ni and donors, help cut the cer­e­mo­ni­al rib­bon for Wesley’s new plaza.

The Board of Trustees sup­port­ed the project from the con­cept stage and ulti­mate­ly encour­aged the admin­is­tra­tion to com­plete the entire project in one sum­mer rather than con­struct­ing the plazas in seg­ments over sev­er­al years.

Finan­cial sup­port for the project came from many sources, includ­ing the Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment Asso­ci­a­tion and the Wes­ley Alum­ni Asso­ci­a­tion. Fund­ing also came from the Delaware Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment Com­mit­tee with a $1.58 mil­lion grant for infra­struc­ture improve­ments, and Nation­al Man­age­ment Resources Cor­po­ra­tion, Wesley’s facil­i­ty man­age­ment ser­vices com­pa­ny, gave $250,000. The siz­able group effort includ­ed the com­mu­ni­ty, state and local gov­ern­ment in addi­tion to the cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty.

“The end result has a greater impact than we had envi­sioned and offers so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to our stu­dents. This tru­ly makes Wes­ley a cohe­sive stu­dent-cen­tered learn­ing com­mu­ni­ty,” John­ston said.

Start­ing in May, the redefin­ing of the cam­pus took shape through­out the sum­mer and was com­plet­ed before the start of the fall semes­ter. Stu­dents were greet­ed with a new look that fea­tured a trans­formed envi­ron­ment, from brick columns at each entrance of the plazas, to land­scap­ing, bench­es, brick­work, walk­ways and Wi-Fi access.

Mak­ing a more pedes­tri­an-friend­ly col­le­giate envi­ron­ment has enhanced the sense of com­mu­ni­ty and engage­ment for stu­dents, the com­mu­ni­ty, fac­ul­ty and staff. The space has already been uti­lized for cam­pus activ­i­ties includ­ing involve­ment fairs, prospec­tive stu­dent open hous­es and stu­dent events such as Zip-lin­ing. Many more events and gath­er­ings will be on the hori­zon since the new plazas have lib­er­at­ed the out­door space to accom­mo­date a host of needs.





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