Greene shares thoughts on Spring Board meeting

“I am consistently encouraged by the support of our trustees, as well as by the efforts I see across campus to ensure the very best intellectual experience for our students and faculty,” President David A. Greene wrote in an Official Notice email to the campus on April 18. That past week, Greene had met with the Board of Trustees for their Spring meeting, during which the group discussed many advancements for the College. In an interview with the Echo, Greene elaborated on the strides of progress made by the board.

As was noted in his email correspondence, Greene confirmed “capital plans” on the athletics facilities and the boutique hotel downtown are moving along. In regards to the athletics facilities, Greene said, “We have been working with the architects on the initial design, as well as importantly master-planning that entire side of campus.”

The new facilities will span from the Baseball/Softball Complex all of the way to the intersection leading to Washington Street, with the Athletic Center moving from its current location to where the Bill Alfond Field and the soccer and rugby fields currently stand. Greene said that this large project and rearrangement mean that the planning team is “making sure that there is a long-term home for, probably, new tennis courts, parking…and having it landscaped beautifully.”

In regards to the structure of the new center, the team is currently working through design concepts. The new building is likely to be a three-story structure, built into a hill. According to Greene, the bottom level will be a “competition level,” with locker rooms and easy-access to sports venues. On the main concourse level, one can expect to be able to look down into all of the different venues, such as the gym, weight room, rink, and aquatic facility. The third level will be a combination of some offices and the fitness center will potentially extend to all three floors, Greene said.

With an expected opening in 2020, Greene said the main challenges of this project are to “firstly make sure the building works really well, and the second part is making it beautiful.”

Similar planning has been going into the boutique hotel that the College hopes to open downtown. Greene said, “We have been working with developers and we are in the stage right now of negotiating with the development company on the hotel.” He continued, “So we are hoping that that is something we will be able to wrap up within the next month or two and then be in a position where we are ready to go forward with a design.”

Although there has not been an official decision as to which location the College will choose for the hotel, Greene said it will likely be in the site of the old Levine’s Department Store, at 9 Main Street. Three sites were originally considered for the project, but Greene noted that the Levine’s building was “leading” with hotel developers due to, in part, its strong location and proximity to the river.

The hotel is anticipated to be a four-diamond quality level hotel, which is considered to be a prestigious rating in the hospitality industry. Greene hopes that the hotel will be “really distinctive in its flavor,” and be an overall great place to stay. Current plans have a restaurant on the ground level of the hotel to supplement its addition to Main Street in a positive way.

The College is currently in negotiations to decide what its ownership stake will be in the hotel. Greene said, “We won’t operate and manage the hotel, we will have another group do that, but we might well own the hotel.” With that approach, Colby would join many colleges and universities in owning businesses in their respective college towns.

Several other investors, separate from the College, have contributed to the project, Greene said. In his experience, Greene said people have been enthusiastic about the hotel and “most people understand how important it is to really revitalizing Main Street and how important it is to Colby, ultimately.”

There is not a set opening date for the hotel as of yet, but Greene said it will hopefully be in 2018-2019.

On another note, the board also discussed the College’s sexual misconduct policy. Though there was nothing in front of the board for action relating to policies, according to Greene, “There was lots of talk about transparency and [what the administration] can be transparent about and what [they] cannot be transparent about.”

Greene stated, in regards to transparency, “This is a really hard issue because its one where the desire for the community is for a lot of transparency with these issues, but that is in direct conflict with legal statutes and federal regulations around these issues, and the need to protect the privacy of these individuals.” However, he acknowledged “we need to find a better way forward on these issues.”

Greene also spoke about the Take Back The Night event, which he attended: “I was so encouraged to see hundreds of members of our community in front of Miller steps listening to one another tell these really, in many cases, devastating personal stories.” To Greene, this event displayed “how supportive this community can be at its best, and how we can learn from one another and how much work we have to do to actually become a place where violence is completely eradicated. [The event] was incredibly, incredibly powerful.”

The final topic that Greene addressed was the search for a new Dean of the College. The Administration has been hosting candidates for the position on campus for the past two weeks, and, according to Greene, hopes to wrap up the search in the next few weeks with a dean who will provide “really strong, innovative leadership.”