Heart of the Campus: New Plazas Help Transform the CollegeDec 12th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Lead Story
BY: Jessica L. Cook
“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.
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.