Dear friends and colleagues:
For the past 10 days, news coverage of a proposed enhancement to our Goldsworth Valley dining facilitates has revolved around the subject of trees—and with good reason. As we studied the proposed site and plans for a new dining hall in the valley and received the final environmental assessment by our staff, it became clear that the project would have required the removal of more than 500 trees—a far larger number than original estimates.
I say, "would have," because we have decided to put a hold on the project to allow us to investigate alternative options. Our campus is a place of extraordinary beauty, and Goldsworth Valley, in particular, is home to some of our most scenic areas. The impact of removing so many trees from the environment was simply too great for us to consider moving forward with the project.
The site selection and development of the building plans for the site followed a process that was thorough, thoughtful, inclusive and, above all, designed to respond to and provide what students told us they would like to see as part of our campus dining options. Still, the resulting proposal was not the right one for our campus or our campus community. I know that many people who worked on the project, including students who offered insights on design features, will be disappointed, and I regret that we were not able to accommodate both the needs of the campus and our commitment to sustainability.
Putting a hold on the project means there will not be a new dining hall ready for use by valley residents in fall 2014. The construction timetable was simply too tight to accommodate the kind of delays that will ensue as we investigate other options.
We will continue, however to work quickly and aggressively to enhance our living and dining facilities across the campus. We have a commitment to meet the expectations of the students and families we serve. With your help, I am confident we will be able to find the right balance between service and sustainability.
As is usually the case, finding that balance will mean making compromises and working together to make sure we live up to all of our commitments as we make the best possible decisions for the future. We will continue to focus on student comfort, convenience, safety and good health. We must also provide a healthy and attractive environment while we operate at peak efficiency and provide good value. Those are tall orders, I know, but I have confidence we will succeed.
Please stay engaged and informed and be ready to bring your good ideas to the mix when we gather next to tackle the challenges of campus improvements.
John M. Dunn